The Value of a Shoebox: Operation Christmas Child

I once read an article about a young boy on Christmas morning after he opened his first present. When his parents offered his next gift, he looked at them and said, "Why would I need another present when I already have this one?"

Ah, the sweet contentment of a heart unpolluted by the trappings of materialism.

For the record, I cannot imagine any of my children, lovely as they are, uttering that statement. 

Not that they're greedy or spoiled, but my kids are more likely to tear through the wrappings of their presents in delirious excitement and then pause, look around, and double-check to make sure that they haven't missed any packages in the initial frenzy.  They're more likely to want three gifts, not two.  Seven gifts, not six.  If you're giving them more of anything -- stuffed animals, helpings of dessert, an extra ten minutes of watching TV -- they'll gladly accept it.

It's a pretty typical kid reaction.  In fact, it's a pretty typical human reaction.  It's exciting to receive a gift, after all.

This is why I'm eager to partner with Operation Christmas Child, a non-profit organization that tangibly shares the love of Christ by providing children -- over 100 million children thus far, in fact -- with a shoebox full of Christmas gifts.

Every year, my daughters and I head to the store to buy the items for our shoeboxes: crayons, markers, notebooks, stickers, small stuffed animals, soap, toothpaste, hair clips, or other compact toys like bouncy balls or a jump rope. For many of these children, these shoeboxes will be the only gift that they receive all year.

In a small way, this experience not only encourages my children to realize how blessed we are, but also to consider how we can practically meet the needs of others.  It's a learning process.  If we gauge it by my three-year-old's reaction of clinging to the stuffed sock monkey while crying "my monkey" instead of putting it into her designated shoebox, it's one that we're still learning.

But if I gauge it by my eight-year-old, who corrected me when I temporarily halted our Operation Christmas Child shopping trek at Target to admire a scarf with a nudging "Come on, mom.  Don't think about yourself right now," I'd say that it's a lesson that's starting to sink in.

Would you like to participate?  You can learn how to pack a shoebox and find drop-off locations near you for this year's collection week, which runs until Monday, November 25.  A shoebox has never been so valuable!

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  1. I love your daughter's statement to you about the scarf. Those little indicators of how much they're growing are awesome. We love Operation Christmas Child too and can't wait to send out our box.

  2. Yes, this moment marked the most rewarding disruption from a child at Target ever.

  3. We LOVE Operation Christmas Child! We're finally healthy enough to trek out tomorrow and fill our shoebox. Today we sat down and planned all the items we wanted to purchase for it. I love how excited my daughter gets about packing it. It's such a wonderful experience.

    Your daughter's reaction with regards to the scarf is amazing. She is obviously learning something from these experiences.

    Wishing you a lovely day.

  4. Kristin RumianNovember 21, 2013

    That is absolutely awesome. I've never heard of it before but we are definitely going to make that part of our holiday tradition. I remember a few years ago I had no money for presents for my girls and I sacrificed every single thing in order to get them some thing. It was a tough Christmas, but we got through it. I understand what those less fortunate are going through year after year, not only once like us. Thanks for letting your readers know about such a wonderful thing!

  5. Kristin, wow... your sacrifice for your daughters is something that will resonate in their hearts deeply, and your compassion for those who are experiencing these same challenges is beautifully evident. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Glad that you can get out of the house! Your organization inspires me, Jennifer. We don't make lists in advance, but I did think ahead this year and buy the crayons, markers, and mini notebooks when all of the back-to-school sales were occurring. I'll always aim to do this!

  7. We just did this Sunday with my oldest daughter and the middle school youth from our church. It was so great to see them really thinking about someone else and trying so hard to make someone else happy.

  8. Great share, very inspiring!

  9. What a Wonderful Post! Thank You for sharing! This is such an outstanding idea!


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