Just yesterday, I picked through toys at my local store for my Operation Christmas Child shoebox. I'm sure many of you have heard of the worldwide Christmas outreach and may have even participated in it with your family. To me, filling a shoebox full of toys toward the end of October, beginning of November, welcomes in the holiday season. It’s a reminder to give first before getting wrapped up in the rush of the Christmas season.
I've been packing shoeboxes every year since I can remember. Cramming as much as I can in one box has always been a fun challenge. From deflated soccer balls (with a pump of course) to rolled-up backpacks to stuffed animals, it's fun to see how much you can fit in such a small container and think about the joy it will bring a child halfway around the world.
As kids, my brother and I wondered why school supplies, soap, and toothbrushes were suggested items to add to the boxes. We were certain toys should only be included. Our mom would remind us that not everyone had school supplies or soap. We relented.
Last year, when paying shipping charges for one of my shoeboxes, I signed-up to receive a delivery tracking notification. The boxes are shipped around the world, and I've always wondered in which country my box would land. The package I tracked was for an older boy, and according to the email later received, it went to Senegal, a country on the northwest coast of Africa. I wonder where my box will go this year.
National Collection Week is Nov. 16-23. It is the official shoebox collection period before the boxes are processed and sent to different locations across the globe. COVID-19 has touched every aspect of our lives it seems, and Operation Christmas Child is no different. Volunteers will have to follow new guidelines, and there are fewer drop-off locations. Boxes are still needed.
I've heard stories of children receiving boxes not only with toys, but also items that met a specific need. One story is about a boy who needed shoes to go to school. He got a pair in his exact size.
It seems like such a small thing, a shoebox full of toys and school supplies, but to a kid in an impoverished area, that might be the only Christmas present they get this season. It might be the only time they ever hear about the love of Jesus Christ.
Packing a Christmas shoebox might seem like something just for your kids, but it's for the whole family. It's a reminder to give what we can to someone who has far less. Amid such a crazy and strange year, bringing a little hope and light to the world through a simple present seems more important now than ever.
To learn more about the organization and how to get involved, visit http://bit.ly/christmas-shoebox.