Project 20: Operation Christmas Child

This morning, Abby, Jake and my mom, and I went shopping to purchase gifts for Operation Christmas Child.  I had never heard of this program before, but it was one of the suggested service projects on the original list that inspired me. 

I absolutely love this organization!   People donate shoe boxes full of gifts for children that are delivered all over the world.  I became a “fan” of Operation Christmas Child on Facebook, and they post stories of children who receive the boxes on a regular basis.  It is so heartbreaking to hear how these children live.  For example, one of the posts recently showed several boys from the Ukraine who received boxes.  The post stated that the boys are homeless and live in the sewer pipes.  Sewer pipes!  Other posts on the OCC website or the Facebook page discuss shoe boxes going to Japan after the tsunami, boxes going to lower class children in the Philipines who live on the edge of a dump, boxes going to orphans in Eastern Europe who would normally receive only candy on Christmas, and boxes going to children on Native American reservations in the United States.

This project is the perfect example of a time when I can feel so overwhelmed by the number of children out there suffering.  Yet, at the same time, it feels so great to know that to one child, this shoebox will mean the world to her.

The Operation Christmas Child website provides a list of suggested gifts and directions for preparing the shoebox.  We chose to make a box for a 2-4 year old girl, since that’s Abby’s age bracket.  We bought a small doll, a small stuffed animal, coloring books, plain coloring paper, crayons, markers, a small etch-a-sketch, a harmonica, a hairbrush, some headbands (Abby’s idea), toothbrushes, toothpaste, and some candy canes (Abby’s idea).  Here are the goodies we bought:

It definitely is a challenge to squeeze everything into a shoe box-sized-box!  I would have had no trouble filling a huge box with goodies.  But, we managed to cram it all in…

Our box just happened to be a Christmas gift box, rather than a shoe box.  (I didn’t have any shoe boxes.)  If we used a shoe box, we would have wrapped it in Christmas paper. 

To finish up our box, I will put a family picture and a note saying Merry Christmas.  We will also include our address, as the OCC website says you may get a response from the child if you do that.  I plan to register our box online (you can pay your $7 for shipping online and register it that way) so we can track where the box ends up.  This is most certainly a project that we will do annually from here on out – and it is a terrific project for a preschooler!

The National Drop-Off Week for Operation Christmas Child is the week of November 14-21.  There are drop off locations all over the country, so you still have time to participate in this great project!  If you live near me and would like to do a box, I am happy to drop off any boxes given to us.  (Just remember that one of the requirements for the box is to include a check for $7 to cover the shipping (or you can pay online), as well as a label.)   I know it’s only November, but doing this project is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit a little early!

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