Started through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child began in the United States in 1993. In their first year they gave 28,000 shoe boxes to children across the globe. This ministry has grown to well over 8 million boxes distributed to over 100 countries on 6 continents. Each box is hand delivered by Samaritan’s Purse and their national partners with a flier offering the salvation message to each recipient.
Our church began to participate in this ministry in 1999 in memory of one of our young adults who had been tragically killed in a car accident earlier that year. We have been able to give over 1,000 boxes during our first nine years and hope to once again prepare at least a hundred.
Each year we strive to draw our congregation together with this project by having various ministries prepare at least ten boxes. One year we had a fun competition to see which adult Sunday School class could make the most boxes, knowing that each box represented another child who would receive one. The winning class received a prepared breakfast from the losing class. We collected over 200 boxes that year!
This year we had a couple donate plastic boxes while others collected items such as soap, wash clothes, candy, and toys for each box. As we gather for a fellowship meal, we plan on packing the boxes together. We take donations at that time for the $7 shipping fee, so families unable to afford it after preparing several boxes can still participate.
Operation Christmas Child provides a video explaining their outreach ministry for churches to use. The video always includes the reaction of the children as they open the box and discover stuffed animals and treats. Jesus’ words about giving a cup of water to a little one (Matthew 10:42) comes alive for us when we witness the happiness expressed by these children when they receive what we take for granted—a pair of socks, a comb or toothbrush. Not a dry eye remains when the video concludes, and we know we made a difference for a little one that Christmas season.
Operation Christmas Child boxes must be packed and sent by mid-November. For more information about how you can participate with Operation Christmas Child, including dates and your local drop off location, please visit their website: http://www.samaritanspurse.org.