Operation Christmas Child: God’s Gift to You

Operation Christmas ChildThis Christmas will you and your family accept the gift God is waiting to provide? Unlike the commercialized Christmas gifts our world tells us are expected, the gift God is hoping to give you does not need batteries. It will not expire, and it won’t deplete your bank account. Actually, it will fill your account – the one that matters most.

“What is this gift,” you ask? It is the gift of unconditional love, of hope, of generosity, of selflessness…given to your sister or brother living in a developing country. When God invites us to step forward, he creates the path and equips us for the task. Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is that path.

One life touched forever
OCC is the world’s largest children’s project. In its 21st year, OCC distributed more than 100 million shoeboxes to more than 130 countries. Yuri Lopez is one child in that 100 million whose life was changed through OCC. Yuri’s parents abandoned her and her twin sister when they were just babies. At the age of 2, she was separated from her sister and other siblings and placed in a Honduran orphanage where she stayed until she was 16.

When Yuri was 6, she received an OCC shoebox for the first time. She shares, “The items in the shoebox gift that I most remember were a letter and photo from the girl who packed my shoebox. I remember thinking that, even though there were 550 kids around me and there were not a lot of people who cared for me, there was someone far away, in a different place that cared enough without even knowing me or my story. The letter was the most important part of the box. I couldn’t believe that a little girl, far away, who doesn’t know me, would take the time to give me a present. Through the shoebox, this little girl showed me the way God loves me, and that there is hope. During the Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution, the volunteers talked to us about God and we said a prayer, then we all counted to three and opened our boxes. It was amazing to see so many gifts in my box just for me!” Since that day, Yuri has come a long way…literally. Her love for school, soccer, and God continues to grow. She now attends Bryan College in Dayton, Ohio and is a member of the soccer team.

What life will you touch?
Yuri’s vision is to help people know that God can change people’s hearts and lives. She hopes to work as a teacher and coach with inner city children and open soccer camps for impoverished youth in Honduras. When she packs shoe boxes, she always includes her picture and a letter to tell children that God will change their lives and they have a future. She knows firsthand the hope that comes with a simple note and gift.
The Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week is November 18-25. Seven drop-off sites will be open all eight days to receive shoeboxes: Addresses and hours for drop-off locations can be found at samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations. For step-by-step instructions on how to pack a box, go to samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box. Suggested items to include in your special box are:

School supplies:
Pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

Small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), Slinky, etc.

Hygiene items:
Toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.

T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)

A personal note:
You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. (If you include your name and address, the child may write back.)

Do not include:
Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out- of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Local leaders
Lake Worth Christian School is the largest school contributor of shoeboxes in the state of Florida. Last year, they packed 6,364 boxes. With just 450 students, ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, the school collects donations throughout the year. The school just started a high school course entitled “Faith in Action”, where students earn a 1/2-credit for serving as leaders in Operation Christmas Child at their school and in the greater community. This is one example of how God is using individuals, schools, small groups, and churches to fulfill Yuri’s vision of inspiring children to know that God can change their lives and give them a future.

What can you do?
OCC’s year-round team of volunteers serves Broward County and southern Palm Beach County to assist churches, schools and community groups in planning their own shoebox drive, supply drive or packing party. The Southeast Florida Area Team collected 50,564 boxes in 2012 – the most in their region which covers the entire state of Florida plus Puerto Rico. For assistance in being part of the work God is doing through OCC, contact your South Florida OCC team at [email protected], call FL Headquarters at 407-852-3727, or visit the the team on social media at: facebook.com/OCCSoutheastFlorida and twitter.com/occsefl
This Christmas, each of us has the opportunity to give a small shoebox gift to a child who may only receive that one gift. Ironically, in order to give a gift that inspires and transforms, we must be willing to accept the gift of hope, of generosity, of selflessness, of love that God is holding out to each of us. Accept it. Let him fill your heart and spirit so that it spills into the lives of others and transforms the life of a child thousands of miles away.

Dr. Terry Morrow is an assistant dean and assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University. She has a Ph.D. in conflict resolution and is in the process of becoming a Certified Christian Conciliator. She can be reached at [email protected].

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