Thursday 22 December 2011

Operation Christmas Child

Beside the Christmas tree in our church lobby were stacked dozens of red and green boxes that our members had filled with crayons, paper, toys, toothbrushes, calculators and other items for needy children.  The program is called "Operation Christmas Child" and is run by Samaritan's Purse, an organization started in 1970 and dedicated to helping those in need during wartime or when natural disasters strike.  Samaritan's Purse workers helped during the Kosovo, Rwanda and Iraq conflicts.  They also rebuilt houses after Hurricane Mitch, Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean Tsunami.  Originally started by Bob Pierce, Franklin Graham took over in 1979.  In 1993, Samaritan's Purse started Operation Christmas Child, collecting and delivering 82 million boxes to date in 130 countries worldwide.  Canada's goal this year is 750,000 boxes.  Most of the Ontario boxes go to Central and South America. 

The box is often the only gift that a child will get in an underdevelopped country.  The joy that appears on the child's face when she opens the box makes it all worthwhile.  “She was shy at first but then her face lights up as she starts taking things out and she realizes that everything in the box is just for her. It wasn’t stuff that she had to share with her family,” said Kathy Mizen, the Windsor regional director who had the opportunity to deliver a box to a 10 year old girl from Uruguay. 

Back in Brantford, Rob and I started filling a Christmas box for a boy when Thomas was a baby; then when Jacqueline arrived, we added one for a girl as well.  Now our kids fill the boxes and it is a great chance for them to think about children who have a lot less than them. 

Our church lobby is empty once again.  The red and green boxes are on their way south of the equator.  What a great way to bring joy to children at Christmas time!

As a footnote, singer Matthew West has written a great song called "Give this Christmas Away" and performed it with Amy Grant, all about Operation Christmas Child.  It is available on Veggietales' "The Story of St. Nicholas" or you can listen to it on YouTube.

Note:  As of 2014, Samaritan's Purse has given away over 100 million Christmas boxes.  Last year, Canadians donated 667,000 boxes.

Here is the link to Matthew West's song "Give This Christmas Away":

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