Run by an organization called Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is a program that provides needy children around the world with shoeboxes of Christmas presents that are purchased, packed and donated by people like you and me. It's the largest children's Christmas project in the world, bringing joy to the lives of over 80 million children since 1993.
I discovered OCC as a young college student and have contributed at least one box every year since. In the early days, I filled a single box with items chosen, albeit with care and love, from the dollar store. These days I can splurge a bit more, and Matt and I have expanded our operation this year. We have such fun shopping for 'our kids' (probably because we don't have any of our own, yet, so it's a welcome excuse to buy toys!) that I'm not sure whether it's us or the children that receive the greater blessing!
The mission of OCC 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." The preparing, packing and sending of a shoebox, however, is much more than an expression of religious faith; it's a recognition of the bounty with which we've been blessed in our country, and an acknowledgement that there are others in need who can benefit from it.
It doesn't take long to fill a shoebox with toys, hygiene items and games, and the financial outlay is truly minimal - especially when you consider that a solitary shoebox is all these children are likely to receive for Christmas. Purchasing the gifts and packing the boxes is really its own reward, but if you're not convinced, just look at the smiles on these faces:
So why am I telling you all about OCC? Well, National Collection Week (November 14-21) is right around the corner, so if this sounds like something you'd like to be involved in, there's still time! The Operation Christmas Child website has all the information you need to prepare a box, as well as details on drop-off locations and ways to contribute financially. Check it out and start doing some early Christmas shopping you can really feel good about!
Disclaimer: I am not a member of Samaritan's Purse of affiliated with them or OCC in any way, other than the fact that I have been blessed by their ministry and happily support it! All thoughts and views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the the views of Samaritan's Purse.