I stumbled upon an organization that sponsors Operation Christmas Child. I am not associated with the church, but something resonated inside of me when I read their mission. The goal is to have people pack a shoe box full of toys, supplies, candy for one child, a sort of Christmas in a box for a child who may have little to no possessions. Perfect! Let's rewind...
For the last month or so we have been getting in the mail, daily, catalogs aimed at filling my children's heads with thoughts of toys that they must have. They want so badly. They can't stop thinking about. At first it was cute, watching them sit on the couch circling the things they wanted to ask Santa for. Then it became an obsession with Eli who has never really been bitten by the retail bug before. He would wait for the mail, pen in hand, ready to attack the latest edition of HearthSong. I needed to find a balance fast. I also needed to get to the mail before he did and sneak the catalog into the recycling before he saw it. Then came Operation Christmas Child. I sent out an e-mail that night to friends and was amazed at the response of willing participants. It seemed we all had an Eli, wanting for too much, sharing too little.
So we organized a group packing of boxes 3 days later. What a success, and I am sorry I did not take a picture of the event. The kids drew pictures, wrapped boxes, snacked on the treats Chloe and Eli had packed and made much too much noise at the library! The best part...they really understood the giving, the message we hoped they would take from the experience of putting a toy you really wished was yours, into a box for a child who had nothing. I expected questions to come up that I was unprepared for, "Why don't they have toys, doesn't Santa know they are there?" It is hard to explain to your child that some kids do not have mothers and fathers to take care of them, but ignorance is bliss. Those things were not called into question, they were just happy to be giving and sharing Christmas with another child.
We brought the boxes last night to a church that with our children's help collected over 1,000 boxes. Chloe and Eli were very proud to deliver them, Eli still wears the button they gave him that reads, I gave a shoe box!
Thank you to all the families who shared in this with us. Hopefully the children will receive a letter back from the children who end up with each box and have a full circle experience. If not, they still have learned compassion, which is a truly wonderful Christmas gift.