November 2016 – When Alex received his Operation Christmas Child shoebox packed with gifts, he was living in a Rwandan orphanage. Genocide had taken his family.
“That box gave me joy when there was nothing left,” he said. “Something as small as a candy cane put a smile on my face. God used that moment to give me a glimpse of greater joy that is in Him. At that moment as a seven-year-old, I needed to be reminded that someone loved me, someone still cared.”
In the West, it is often taken for granted that children are to be valued and cared for. But in other places throughout the world, the dictates of culture, religion, or poverty often leave children truly the least in a society.
Opening a box
A toothbrush or tiny stuffed toy might not seem like much by western standards, but for those on the receiving end of OCC shoebox gifts, it is a once-in-a-childhood gesture of generosity and caring. It is something almost too simple not to do.
As an inlet of unexpected love opens for a child, it also opens wide the doorway to introduce eternal salvation.
Livia was a 12-year-old in a Romanian orphanage when an OCC box came to her. “Before we even got the shoebox gifts, they shared the gospel with us,” she said. “When I got hairclips, which I had been wishing for, I just couldn’t believe how God could make something like that possible. It made me realize that there is a God who loves me. … Love was a brand new word in my vocabulary. The same year I received the shoebox, I accepted Christ into my heart. ”
Packing a box
There are many ways to get involved from one’s own living room, church, club, or school.
“Each month at our church, we collect the ‘item of the month’ designated on OCC’s website,” AFA Journal staff writer Rebecca Davis shared. “I also save toys from children’s meals to add to shoeboxes. And for our son’s sixth birthday party, we asked guests to bring items for OCC in place of a gift. Our children have so much, and this presents an opportunity for them to learn about caring for the needs of others.”
OCC has many materials about packing a single shoebox, holding a packing party as a group event, or making tax-deductible, in-kind donations as a business with factory second and discontinued or overstocked merchandise.
OCC hopes to collect 12 million boxes this year. It’s not too late to pack a box or contribute $7 to cover shipping costs for each shoebox. It could put a smile on a child’s face, a toy in her hand, and Christ in her heart.
AFA is partnering with OCC again this fall. American Family Radio staff members have participated in past OCC distributions of shoeboxes. (See AFAJ, 10/12, 11/13 to read about some of their experiences.)
For more information and to locate a drop-off site the week of November 14-21, contact:
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
In addition to OCC, Samaritan’s Purse has varied ministries to reach around the world:
▶ Human Trafficking – education and prevention programs bring justice, and Christian partners help restore victims.
▶ Disaster Relief – thousands of volunteers provide emergency aid to victims of tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters worldwide.
▶ Operation Heal Our Patriots – gives wounded veterans and spouses opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment.