It isn’t a stretch to say that child would be disappointed.
But when a child in a third-world country opens an Operation Christmas Child shoebox and sees those same exact items, there aren’t words that can express that child’s joy — no matter what language they may speak.
In an effort to provide and minister to impoverished children across the globe, people all over the U.S. are busily packing shoeboxes with hygiene products, toys and school supplies, and group of individuals at Pleasant Valley North Baptist Church were busy doing just that on Thursday and Friday mornings.
Weyman Storey, the Northwest Georgia Area Team Community Relations team member, said one Operation Christmas Child testimony in particular touched his heart.
“The first one I heard that made me cry the most was (about) this little girl; I think she was 11 or 12 years old,” Storey recalled. “She was going on to school that morning; I assume it was her sister or brother, she was taking in to school. She was so depressed she had already made plans to commit suicide that day. And her feet were hurting and sore. She had empty, plastic coke bottles and taped them on her feet to be able to walk to school. And that day, they gave out the shoeboxes. And you can guess what she got. She got a pair of shoes in her box.”
Something miraculous about Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is that the right box seems to find the child that needs its contents most, he said.
Operation Christmas Child is a global Christmas gift exchange program by the Samaritan’s Purse that began in 1993 with 28,000 shoebox gifts being delivered to poor children. But 2012 will mark the 100 millionth shoebox that will reach a suffering child’s hands.
Storey said he and his fellow church members were stuffing boxes with items like notebook paper, construction paper, coloring books, crayons, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, ballpoint pens, combs, washcloths, bars of soap, socks, cups, candy and small toys. Their boxes were categorized for boys and girls in age groups 2-4, 5-9, and 9-15.
Every box is shipped to Atlanta and is inspected to ensure nothing dangerous, such as alcohol, drugs or weapons, is found inside. Then, a small, illustrated book called “The Greatest Journey,” depicting the love of Jesus Christ, is put inside the boxes. The books are in the languages the receiving children speak. After the children read the books, they choose whether or not they want to participate in a 12-week course about Christianity. Once they’ve completed the course, they’ll receive a New Testament in their language.
“We’re always looking out for items,” he said. “People will donate or find something at a good price.”
Jo Ellen Strain was selecting items to place in the boxes and said she was happy knowing she could help a poor child somewhere out there.
“I contribute every year, but this is my first year to come in here and stack,” she said. “I just think it makes the child very excited and very happy to receive one. And the reports that we’ve had, the children are just elated. Also, their parents are so very happy and very thankful to see the child has been remembered in this way. It’s a way to reach them to further the gospel of Christ.”
Storey said they will be packing more shoeboxes on Thursday and Friday. Also, anyone who may have questions about Operation Christmas Child or that wants to contribute in any way may contact him at 706-291-2088.
“It’s the easiest way for a person to go on a mission trip without having to get on a plane or a bus,” he said. “Little is much if God is in it… It’s in the scripture. But everybody can do just a little bit and it’s huge.”