During the steamy months of summer, Christmas is typically the furthest from our minds, but Operation Christmas Child volunteers celebrate Christmas in July and all throughout the year by connecting with the community to collect donations and pack gift boxes.
Shoe box packing party
On August 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Lake Worth Christian School, located at 7592 High Ridge Road, Boynton Beach, will host a “Shoebox Packing Party” to put together special gift-filled boxes to be sent to impoverished nations around the world by Operation Christmas Child to open doors to sharing God’s love.
Lake Worth Christian School invites other schools, homeschool groups, scout troops and families to join the effort. The goal is to pack 2,000 gift filled shoeboxes which will be distributed to countries’ orphanages, children’s hospitals, and refugee camps.
The world’s largest world relief agency for children, Operation Christmas child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, which uses the boxes as a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship transforming the lives of children and their families around the world.
According to Donna Pierce, S.E. Florida area coordinator, “The shoebox is often the first gift many children have ever received. The treasures and personal letters inside communicate that someone cares for them and give them an opportunity to experience the love of God.”
On August 1st, Church by the Glades brought 300 volunteers together to fill 1000 shoeboxes at the “serve the city” event. Hundreds of families also chose to serve with Operation Christmas Child during their Christmas in July Parties hosted by Hollywood Community Church, where families and individuals of all ages experienced what serving for a Christian world relief organization entails.
Children beaded necklaces and made hair bows. JESUS coloring templates were decorated and placed inside the shoebox lids so that each time the child opened his or her shoebox they would see the powerful name of JESUS! Shoe boxes were wrapped for eventual gift filling. And empty tennis cans were filled with pens and pencils. Pierce explained that in many impoverished areas, children use the empty tennis cans as drinking glass because most of the kids they serve don’t have cups.
“These are the poorest of the poor,” said Pierce, who shared that recipients of the shoe boxes in a Romanian orphanage walk long distances just to get water and share a community toothbrush to brush their teeth once a week. In the 500 member orphanage, there is no one to hug, so when they get a stuffed animal it’s a real treasure.
The team of Operation Christmas Child volunteers often show videos, share stories and involve children in a skit to demonstrate the difference in the life of a shoebox recipient and the shoebox sender.
“I’m all about educating children in America about how fortunate they are,” said Pierce. She shared another story of a Honduran boy who was unable to go to school because his parents could not afford a spiral notebook and pencil, which were the only supplies required for attendance. “When he got that in a shoebox,” Pierce said, “he went to school the very next day for the first time, and it literally changed his life.”
There is power in a simple box when packed in love and sent in God’s power. For more information on Operations Christmas Child, Contact Donna Pierce, S.E. Florida area coordinator, at 954-253-0224 or [email protected].