|It's a tradition--scenes from Union University's Packing Party|
Eager participation in this far-reaching ministry was a no-brainer for me. Precious kids in need. Sharing the Gospel. Beautiful faces. Full of joy. No matter what. Count me in. My boys can attest to the fact that while I rail about the lack of anticipation (Hello, that’s what Advent means!) as we rush headlong into Christmas from Halloween, the only permissible mention of Christmas before December 1 is Operation Christmas Child. Period.
Operation Christmas Child (OCC), better known as “The Shoebox Ministry”, was birthed in Australia in 1990. Adopted in 1993 by Samaritan’s Purse (an international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham), the original recipients of gift-filled shoeboxes were Bosnian children whose families had been separated or destroyed by war. Twenty years later, over 113 million shoeboxes have been distributed to underprivileged children in more than 150 countries. Countless stories have been told about how these boxes, packed with love, prayer, and washcloths, have crossed international boundaries that have been closed to traditional missionaries for years. Pack-n-Pray.
How does this work? You, the packer, gets to choose whether you want to pack a box for a boy or girl--and then, you choose the age range: 0-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Given that I am overpowered by testosterone by a 3:1 ratio in my house and rarely come across anything purposefully pink, I always pack a box for a little girl. The boxes are filled with school supplies, toiletries (bar soap, bath scrubbies, and the like) and accessories--a new t-shirt, a pair of sneakers, or a pair of flip-flops may await the recipient. Small games, books, yo-yos, balls, or action figures (no war-based items, please) are other great ideas. Coloring books and crayons are a thrill for all ages--I mean it! And, because you feel all responsible and hygienic by providing a toothbrush and paste, hard candy is always welcome. Hooray for Tootsie Pops, we say!
There is so much more that could be said and as you all know, I am rarely at a loss for words. But, this time, I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. While I wipe away the happy tears. And eat my Swiss Cake Roll.