Imagine a Christmas with no gifts. Imagine a Christmas where you never see the joy on your children's faces opening specially wrapped presents. Imagine, as a parent, not being able to afford to go to the shops each year in December and choose something for your children, your nieces, nephews or grandchildren.
While Christmas is not about the presents, it is very special to have the privilege of giving something to others to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to demonstrate the generous nature of God. For some children, the excitement and happiness surrounding this amazing time of year is simply foreign.
Operation Christmas Child
Each year, an organisation called Samaritan's Purse, gives millions of children across the globe the opportunity to receive a very special giftâa shoe box full of gifts, hygiene items and school supplies. This simple box is full of things so rare to those who receive them.
Samaritan's Purse has an impact on the lives of vulnerable children through educational, feeding, clothing, and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotten (www.Samaritan'spurse.org).
This shoe box program is called Operation Christmas Child and is just one of the many programs aimed at children. The way it has been embraced by individuals and churches around the world is astonishing.
Operation Christmas Child has benefited millions of children around the world. Not only have these shoe boxes brought joy to the recipients, but also brought joy to the givers.
Since its inception in 1993 Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories. This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 11 million children. Shoebox gifts are collected in the US, Australia, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Spain and the UK.
Individuals and churches across the world pack shoe boxes and deliver them to a drop off point nearest to where they live. Each box is packed for a boy or girl in a specific age range, with just under $10 included for shipping purposes.
Each box is now able to be tracked and the giver of the box is able to find out which country their box went to. What joy to give such a special gift of love this Christmas.
Thinking of others at Christmas
Lego, Transformers, Play Stations, X-Box ... plus hundreds of other expensive toys and games will fill Australian homes this Christmas. These sights are foreign to the receivers of a shoe box. A toothbrush, some pencils, some socks, a small doll ... the contents of a shoe box will be all many children will receive this Christmas time; but it may be their happiest Christmas ever!
A mum from our church went shopping to fill their shoe box. She said it was so special shopping with her daughter for the items and every time she handed the money to the person behind the register her daughter told them the toys are not for me but a little girl far away. What a beautiful concept to instil in our children this Christmas. It's all about giving to others.
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Not only are children receiving things they need for school, for daily hygiene and things to play with, but they also receive the good news about Jesus along with the box. As boxes are handed to the children, the giver says to them, 'a gift from Jesus' and children also receive booklets about how Jesus loves them and who He is.
This is in no way forced but is offered to the children. Many eagerly want to find out who this Jesus is. He is the one who loves them more than anything because He created them.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html