All year long, Kellen and Kerrick each worked to fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, a mission project coordinated by the Samaritan’s Purse relief organization. Every December, Samaritan’s Purse delivers the boxes—containing fun things such as toys and candy, as well as essentials like toothpaste and soap—to impoverished children all over the world.
This was our first year to participate, and the boys kicked off their efforts in January by purchasing plastic shoebox-size containers. (We debated at length about whether to use plastic or actual cardboard shoeboxes—favorable because we’d be recycling and the box would be biodegradable. But in the end, plastic won out because we thought the recipients might appreciate a more durable, waterproof container that could later be used for another purpose.) Kellen and Kerrick each opted to fill a box for a boy in their age group (5 to 8 years old) and—following the guidelines outlined on the organization’s Web site—they made lists of the items they wanted to include. The next order of business was planning their purchases. (I need to explain here that anytime the boys earn or receive money, they are required to divide it into “save,” “share” and “spend” categories. With this year’s project in mind, their “share” money quickly became allocated for shoebox items.)
Our shopping excursions provided plenty of lessons in budgeting (the boys learned to make their money stretch by looking for sales and by buying some items—pencils, toothbrushes—in bulk that could be split between their boxes). And, with a little coaxing, they even turned their joint birthday party into an opportunity to draw their friends into the fun, requesting voluntary donations in lieu of any gifts.
By November, Kellen and Kerrick had filled the shoeboxes to the brim with the following items:
• Clothing (shirts, underwear, socks)
• School supplies (pencils and sharpener, erasers, crayons, paper)
• Toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap)
• Toys (Hot Wheels, LEGOs, Playmobil figures, tennis ball)
• A letter from—and photo of—each boy
When we discovered that the church we attend would serve as a collection place for shoebox donations this year, we scheduled an afternoon when we could both drop off the boxes and volunteer to help with collection efforts. The day we were there wasn’t a particularly busy one, but Kellen and Kerrick still got to help put rubber bands around all of the boxes that came in and load them into larger cartons that were packed into 40-foot semi-truck trailers to be hauled to regional sorting centers. The highlight for the boys was getting to climb inside one of the trailers and pose for a photo. (Kennah even got in on the action, and has decided that she wants to fill her own shoebox—for a girl her age—next year. Of course, knowing Kennah’s fascination with footwear, chances are pretty good that her shoebox will actually contain at least one pair of shoes.)
Several days before Christmas, we learned that our shoeboxes were both delivered to children in Peru. So the learning experience can continue as we find out more about that country and what life might be like for the boys who received Kellen’s and Kerrick’s gifts. And a slim possibility exists that we might actually hear directly from the children who opened our boxes. But even if we never do, we know we helped make two Christmases a little brighter, and we can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
December 27, 2009 2 Comments