Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Operation Christmas Child Packing Party

Our invitation, and information we passed out for our party
Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child? I've been packing boxes since I came to know Christ as my Savior. (Which wasn't that long ago, 14 years ish- I'm still a teenager!) Operation Christmas Child is a part of Samaritan's Purse. Every year shoe boxes are packed with toys and gifts for a needy child around the world. Anyone can pack a shoe box! The shoe boxes are sent to a sorting facility- items like war toys/guns are removed- and volunteers make sure boxes meet each country's customs requirements. Then the boxes are delivered to the children through local churches and ministries in the area. Read more about the journey of a shoe box HERE.
This year, I'm finally having a shoe box packing party. I've wanted to for so long. It just seems silly, there were always reasons I didn't, there were years DH was deployed, something "came up", our house is too small- it still is! But we're going to squeeze people in. So I'm praying that God will let this be an annual party, that He will use us to bless the children receiving the boxes, and use us to bless our friends that can attend the party. We're going to pack boxes, fill out "All About Me" forms,  we're going to have snacks and play, then we'll send everyone home with a reminder to pray for whoever receives their box/es, . This year's goal is to surpass 100 million shoe boxes delivered to children around the world. We're praying our little party can help that goal be met. I'll post more party pictures when I get a chance, our party isn't for a couple of weeks! But keep reading!

I shop all year for shoe boxes. I'm not kidding, toy clearance times, when hobby stores put their t-shirts on sale, socks, tooth brushes, school supplies. I put them all in a big bin, or two. Then come packing time we pull everything out. We've added pictures the girls have drawn, notes they've written, a family picture. There is a $7 donation to help with shipping of the shoe boxes, the cool thing is you can donate this online and follow your shoe box to see where in the world it ends up! There's a link at the bottom to read more about Follow Your Box donations.
I think Operation Christmas Child is a tangible way my girls can show love for others, and help others. Sometimes the girls and I will be out and they will ask "would this fit in a shoe box for a gift" if they see an item. They also are reminded to pray for who ever receives their box. 
I don't know about you but, we're in the US. We are extremely blessed and when the holiday season rolls around the marketing and retailers come out full force. It's hard not to get caught up in the "I want this" "Put this on my list", and it's not just my kids- I fall prey to this! There's sales for items, Christmas trees are ALREADY up in stores- it's only October! Signs and posters are screaming out "BUY THIS, you NEED it." So, yes shoe boxes are small, but they are the perfect small reminder that we are not the center of the universe. Our focus is not to be on us. For us, it's to be on Christ, and on what/who is on His heart. 
Can you imagine seeing a child's face as they open one of these boxes? A gift from a stranger to a child who may have never felt what it's like to get ONE gift, never mind seeing a Christmas tree filled with boxes under it. 
This is what that looks like (These pictures are from the OCC Facebook page)

Really. Such a simple and small thing, to bring that joy. To let someone know you care about them. It's not a big thing, it's not an expensive thing, it's not even time consuming. But it can have a big effect on a child. It's a wonderful tradition for us.
Have you ever packed a shoe box? What do you put in yours? Would you like to pack a shoe box but don't know where to start? Check out the links below
Follow Your Box Donations can be made HERE.
Order materials, including the "All About Me" coloring sheets HERE.
No time to shop? Use the "Build a Box" feature HERE.
Find them on
Twitter
 Read more Operation Christmas Child posts HERE.
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