For many years our church has packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child. The mission of this Christian organization is to share God’s love by shipping / flying / trucking / snowmobiling / pedaling / paddling, etc…boxes of Christmas toys and treats and joy to children in need in the remotest corners of the earth. To give your children an idea of where their boxes might go and who will receive them, watch this video of children receiving their Christmas boxes in Papa New Guniea and this video of children receiving their boxes in Ukraine. And keep a kleenex box handy. Find drop off locations in your area by typing in your zip codehere. (Friends in our area, our closest drop-off location is the KTIS radio station across from Northwestern College.) You can download all the packing labels you need for your gift box that specify boy or girl and their age here. And don’t forget to include a picture of your child or your whole family and a personal note with your mailing address…we have heard of people getting letters back from the child who received their box! Collection week is November 12-19, so there is still time!
A couple years ago, I helped my boys pack a box for a boy their age and my girls pack one for a girl their age. This year they all begged to pack their own boxes. So we have four.
We talk often about ways we can share what we have to help others who do not have. This is such a tangible and joyful way to encourage our children to give. We went as a family to Target and Dollar Tree for items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair clips and headbands, race cars, nerf balls, crayons, etc. But I also asked each of our kids to pick out at least one special toy that they already own that they would like to give to a child who might not normally receive any Christmas presents. It is so beautiful to see the giving hearts of young children. One of my daughters could not even close her box because she was trying to stuff in so many of her stuffed animals. So she dispersed them between the boxes. We also had one who needed encouragement to find just one toy to give away, but even so it is a rewarding activity for everyone. I know I can fall under either of those categories depending on the day. The purpose is not to guilt ourselves or our children into charitable deeds, but to encourage a generous spirit.
C.S. Lewis writes,
I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, …they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.
This is radical and challenging to me and my family. There are no templates for the right amount of giving. What we do know is that the more we allow ourselves a taste of this joy, the more acute our desire for giving will become.
Have fun packing, and be sure to get your boxes to your nearest drop-off site by November 19!