Today’s the big day! Over at Real Life, Sarah is hosting a Virtual Packing Party to wrap up her Operation Christmas Child Carnival – and unfortunately, we will not be able to make the virtual party in real-time.
And, ehem… we weren’t exactly able to make our packing party, either. Due to poor planning sickness run a-muck a number of factors, I wasn’t able to pull together a party the way I had hoped. But next year… watch out! Because look at all the great resources Samaritan’s Purse provides you to plan your own packing party, or even a church-wide event! So, next year, with a little forethought and a lot of vitamin C, we’ll do it up right!
We were able to get together with a friend who was planning on putting together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child anyway, without our well-intended party. So Elias, Donovan and I met our dear friends, Lily, Mae, and their mommy, Annette, at the dollar store to stock up our shoeboxes. That was a lot of fun – both Annette and I had explained to the kids what we were doing, and why we were doing it. Both Lily and Elias decided to pack a shoebox for a little boy their age (they are 6 weeks apart), and Donovan and Mae (14 months old) just came along for the ride. I wish I had remembered to take my camera to the dollar store – it was a lot of fun watching them chose toys and other necessities for the little boys who would be getting their boxes. Lily even put her own little touch on her box, including a Disney princess harmonica and a really pretty bead necklace for her little friend far away.
Here’s a bunch of pictures of our shoeboxes for you…
From top left – we started packing the shoebox with the flat, school-type stuff, and then added the soap and toothpaste/toothbrush, and then the fun stuff! On top of everything we laid the bag of hard candy (and the socks that I forgot to put towards the bottom). Then Elias told me what he wanted his letter (form provided by Operation Christmas Child!) to his little friend to say. I opened up Lily’s box to show you the adorable Christmas picture she drew for her little friend and the Christmas card Lily and her mom made for the box. Then we decorated the outsides of the boxes. Since Lily and Annette were not around for this part, I kept their box classy, and let Elias go crazy on his box. Good thing those foam stickers can pop off, huh?
One thing both Annette and I did was go with a plastic, re-usable shoebox – because as moms, we all know how much sturdy storage means, right? Even if the little 2-4 year old boys who get the shoeboxes don’t want to store their little gifts in the plastic, the moms would definitely know what to do with the boxes.
Some highlights for me were watching Elias really get into decorating his shoebox to make his little friend somewhere in the world happy. He asked some great questions while he decorated – why does this little boy need toothpaste? Why can’t I have a car like the one we are giving him? Who is the little boy who will be getting my box? This let us talk about the abundance that we have and the need that others around the world have… and it let us pray together for the little boy who will be getting the shoebox, whomever he might be.
Operation Christmas Child also has these Certificates of Participation that you can print out for anyone who does participate – so cute! Elias loved getting his certificate. And I wish I was able to get a picture of him as he said, “Mommy, I want to deliver this shoebox to my little friend right now!” – and as he said “right now!” he pumped his fist into the air Tiger-Woods-style.
I am so glad that the excitement of giving a gift to a child who doesn’t have much has taken hold of Elias… I am praying that this lasts throughout this upcoming holiday season. Operation Christmas Child has given me some invaluable time and resources to discuss needs of children around the world in a tangible way with Elias – and since we donated the postage for our shoebox online, we will be able to track our shoebox and find out to which country it was delivered, and we’ll be able to follow up with more prayer for the child receiving our shoebox and his family.
Thank you, Sarah, for organizing this Operation Christmas Child Carnival and encouraging me to start a new tradition with my family. It’s just a little box with some goodies in it from our end, but knowing that a child in need will hear the good news of Christ – the best gift ever – is the best tradition I can start with my family.