It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me, or who has ever read this blog, that I am in love with and so proud of my children. That’s not to say we are always well-behaved or that we don’t test boundaries, ignore rules, or make unwise choices. Of course we do! But I am always proud of their sweetness, their caring hearts, and their desire to do nice things and to love people.
This year at a church event, we learned about Operation Christmas Child, a program in which you obtain an empty shoe box and fill it with gifts to send to a boy or girl somewhere around the world for Christmas. Boxes were provided at the event, so we grabbed two of them. Vincent was responsible for choosing gifts for a boy between the ages of two and four, and Eva became responsible for selecting gifts for a girl between the ages of five and nine.
We went shopping this weekend and each of my children chose gifts they thought a boy and girl would love. They selected hair barrettes, hot wheels, chapstick, toothpaste, toothbrushes, stuffed animals, blankets, colorful socks, and rubber lizards for their boxes. At home, we packed the boxes, printed out labels, and waited for this morning when we took them to church and the kids carried them in to place on a table growing with similar boxes.
I was nearly brought to tears several times this weekend as I watched how excited Eva and Vincent were to choose things for someone across the world, close to their ages, who did not have “as much” in the way of toys and the like as they did. Surprisingly, my children never asked for anything for themselves as we chose gifts for their boxes, and they couldn’t wait to proudly, and with huge smiles, carry their boxes into church.
I tallied up the cost and discovered that each box held $35 worth of product. Of course, that amount could have varied in either direction, depending on where one chose to shop. Now, I’m no math whiz (I was an English major!) but a total of $70 seemed pretty darn reasonable, and worth every penny. When I fill up my vehicle with gas, it costs $70. I took the kids to lunch after we did our box shopping, and that cost $20. We went to the mall, where I dropped way too much money on face and hair products.
Keeping the gift box tally in mind compared to what we spend in an average day was a real eye opener for me.
We aren’t strangers to local and global giving around here, but most of our giving is done anonymously or to places we don’t see the impact first hand or know exactly where the money is going. We sponsor a low-income family in town, contribute to young single mothers, volunteer with a no-kill animal shelter, and George gives to Boy Scouts and the Smile Train. But these are things—except for the animal shelter—for which we simply write checks and never actually see impact.
To see my kids smiling and thoughtfully choosing gifts for other children, to print out labels and watch Eva tape them to the boxes, to look forward to tracking the packages to see where they end up, imagining what joy $35 will bring to each child…incredible.
If you have $15 or $30 lying around, consider grabbing a shoe box and filling it up to send across the world through Operation Christmas Child. Drop off for the boxes runs until November 21!