Operation Christmas Child: A Shoebox Full of Hope

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    Chesterfield County, Virginia  –  How many times have you received gifts for your birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukkah? How many times have you given a gift to celebrate an event in someone’s life? Could the gifts you give and receive on any occasion fit in a shoebox? Would you be happy if they did?

    Every day in some part of the world, a child’s birthday is neglected. Every year holidays are overlooked or unknown.

    Yet what if a small gift could change this for a child?

    Operation Christmas Child now entering it’s nineteenth year has set a goal of reaching 10,000,000 children this year with its simple gift of a filled shoebox. The first year 28,000 boxes were collected. Last year over 9,000,000 boxes were distributed to needy children in over 130 countries making Operation Christmas Child the world’s largest Christmas project.

    Can a shoebox filled with soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, everyday needs in our world change those of a child? Yes, our common everyday items are luxury goods to them. A small stuffed animal or doll may be the only toy they will ever own. This gift may be the only one they ever receive. According to Ann Boyd, an Operation Christmas Child, drop off coordinator, “This is a unique opportunity to do something simple that will have a lasting impact on a child a world away.”

    These shoeboxes transcend all barriers, language, cultural, religious, political, even geopolitical to give these children the message hope and love exist. A box placed in the hands of a needy child gives them a feeling of specialness that can never be taken away. Joyce Ward, a Chesterfield OCC volunteer has placed boxes in the hands of children in Croatia. “ I put a shoebox in the hands of a four year old girl who never smiled. After coaxing her to open the box, she took out a doll and smiled.” Who can say that planting these seeds won’t change a child’s outlook in life?

    You can change at least one day in the life of a child by filling a shoebox with stuffed animals, pencils, hard candy, crayons, coloring books, building blocks, etc. Nothing liquid, perishable, or war related is acceptable.

    Operation Christmas Child will be collecting shoeboxes November 12-19 2012. To find the closet drop off call Stephanie Broughton, area drop off coordinator, 598-1151, or go online to  www.samaritanspurse.org for more information and view videos from the reception sites.