Operation Christmas Child–A Gift For Everyone.

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!

Eva waiting to pack her box that will be sent to a little girl between the ages of five and nine years old somewhere across the world.

Vincent giving two thumbs up for the box he created that will be delivered to a boy aged 2-4 years in a foreign country.

On the way in to church, a drop-off location for the kids' Operation Christmas Child boxes.

Eva and Vincent were all smiles as they added their boxes to the growing pile on the table. We tracked the gift tags so we'll know to which country their boxes will arrive.


  1. This is a great charity. I’m glad to see a post about it. We find this such a worthwhile cause that has benefits to those getting and those giving. It is such fun to shop for items for the shoeboxes. I often wonder what these children must feel when they open them up to discover the little treasures inside. I think it is wonderful that you are involving your own children in this. :)

  2. Way to go Eva and Vincent! My kids are getting $100 each this Christmas to buy toys for Toys for Tots. They will not be getting toys from their parents this Christmas. They both are excited to pick out stuff. Hopefully they will understand that the toys are not for them and they might be disappoint on Christmas day, but it is never to early to learn that giving is better than receiving!

  3. This is wonderful, Jen. When I was a social worker, it was a special treat to work with the families who volunteered with our agency – so good to get kids involved at such a young age. All of our contributions make a difference, but the visible connection is especially powerful, isn’t it? Glad that your family got to experience that gift together!

  4. Thanks for your comments! I enjoyed each of them. Laura, how many times have you participated in this charity? How did you hear about it? I think next year we will each do a box and go as an entire family to find things to fill them. I’d love to see how G would fill one!

    Kim, you reminded me of the time we went and shopped for Toys for Tots together and then delivered them to the drop-off at the gym. That was really fun! We should do that again, actually, with all the kids. I can’t wait to read how it goes for you with R and F.

    Tele, the visible connection is definitely more powerful. Speaking of visible connection of a different sort…I recently flipped to a TV channel that was doing a quick segment on family homelessness in our state. It wasn’t a long documentary or even a pitch for help…the cameras were briefly in a homeless camp for families where it was pouring down rain, muddy, and there were tents and makeshift tarps everywhere.

    Anyway, the camera flashed suddenly on a boy who had to be about fifteen. He wiped some rain off his face, ran a hand through his wet head, and said with a wry smile to someone off camera, “Wow…sure wish I had a house right about now!”

    His remark—and his look—was so spontaneous and unscripted…the vision and words of that kid alone was more powerful than all the debate, statistics, and rhetoric I’ve listened to about the economy and the housing crisis combined over the last few years.

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