The Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Shoebox Program is amazing, but if you think it is only about giving gifts at Christmas to needy children in the far reaches of the world you are greatly underestimating the power of a Shoebox. My family wasn’t going to church when we were first introduced to the shoebox. In fact, we were a little fed up with church at the time perceiving it mostly as a self-serving overly righteous entity. Harsh I know, but that’s exactly what happens when hearts get hardened.
My son was in Cub Scouts at the time, and the Den Mother presented an idea for a service project. She talked about this program that she had been doing with her sons for a number of years. The premise was to pack a shoebox with supplies for a child who essentially had nothing. We were immediately on board. We could use this program to teach our son about giving to others, how there are children in the world who live with so much less (not even electricity for video games), as well as the practical nuances of budgeting. We were invited to fill a shoebox on our own, or bring a couple of things from the list that the boys could all pool together to pack a couple of boxes collectively. After hitting up Target for supplies, we made it back to the follow-up meeting where we had a “Packing Party,” and the boys put together the boxes. They had a blast pulling all the stuff together for these kids who were their age and less fortunate than them. The Den Mother shared pictures and stories from some of the brochures of children who had received boxes in the past and showed us how we were going to track our boxes to see where in the world they went.
We met up later that week, full of excitement, to drop our box off at a Distribution Center at a nearby church. The people at the church were kind, not pushy, and genuinely passionate about giving to these kids, which I confess was a bit of a shock to our cynical selves at the time. There were no telemarketing fundraiser types to be seen, and we felt a genuine sense that God was doing something. An enthusiastic gentleman showed the boys around and let them gape at the piles of boxes ready to be shipped to South America. The gracious woman who volunteered at the make-shift front desk offered to pray with us that the box would get to the right child and bless the family who received it.
Keep in mind, this was the first time my family had prayed together in a way that was not just part of a cultural pre-meal routine, or obligatory bowing of heads when prompted by others. We didn’t know it at the time, but before that winter was over we would find our hearts opened again. We landed in a new church home fully aware of God’s blessing…and it all started with a simple shoebox.
The Church at Severn Run has begun collecting OCC Shoeboxes for 2016! Contact the church for more information.