Operation Christmas Child
Learn the impact a shoebox gift can make to children around the world
Photo courtesy of Operation Christmas Child
Imagine a room full of children on the other side of the world who have never received a gift in their life. A colorful shoebox is placed in front of them, and they have no idea what is inside. A countdown takes place. The excitement grows. They open it, not fully prepared for the amount of love that is packed inside the box for them. The sounds of an infectious joy echo across the room. Feeling cared for, a light shines in the hearts of these children that will never go out. It’s a beautiful and raw moment that Operation Christmas Child knows all too well.
For over a quarter of a century, Operation Christmas Child has been directing prayers and generosity toward children in war-torn, undeveloped, and hard-to-reach areas of each corner of the world. By filling these boxes with small gifts for young ones, those involved with Operation Christmas Child make miracles happen. Stretching their arms as widely as possible, they have delivered 168 million gift shoeboxes in over 160 countries.
“The most important things we put into them are prayer and the hope of Jesus,” Jean Ingram, prayer coordinator of northwest Oklahoma for Operation Christmas Child, says.
Some other important items to include in the boxes are school supplies and hygiene products, as access to essential items like this for a growing child are often limited in these areas. These items can be just as meaningful to the child as a toy.
“I’ve seen a child cuddle up with a toothbrush before,” Ingram says.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritans Purse, is a nationwide effort with nearly 5,000 drop-off locations and over 100,000 volunteers during collection week. People across the country have opportunities to connect with their communities and attend packing parties, or volunteer with their local processing centers. Drop-off locations will be open during national collection week, Nov. 18-25, 2019. There are 91 drop-off locations available in Oklahoma. To find one closest to you, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/ drop-off-locations/
The Shoebox Ministry has made it easy for everyone to have a chance to participate in this project. Donors can choose between packing for a girl or boy, and select an age range from 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. The items needed are a standard size shoebox, a few small gifts, a prayer for the child that receives it, and a small donation of $9 to cover processing, shipping, and other project costs. This fee can also be paid online with the feature “Follow Your Box” found on the website listed below.
“The most important things we put into them are prayer and hope.”
- Jean Ingram, prayer coordinator of northwest Oklahoma for Operation Christmas Child
The value of these gifts goes beyond what is tangible. In a video published by Samaritans Purse, Boun Thorne, a full-circle Operation Christmas Child who received a box at a young age in Cambodia, and lives here in Oklahoma now helping with shoebox distributions says: “The box is not just about new items, it’s about the real choice and real love that will last with me, and with those children forever. It’s the box that helps them find the true love and true hope for their life.”
Oklahomans from all corners of the state are encouraged to join the effort. Pull out those shoeboxes that are collecting dust and put them to good use by transforming lives.