Operation Christmas Child gifts collected this week will communicate hope, joy, and love to boys and girls around the world
Across the United States this week collection centers have opened to begin receiving Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.
Soon, millions of gifts lovingly packed by individuals, families, churches, and civic groups will be on their way to children in need in 117 countries around the world. The gifts will be delivered by every means possible—boat, airplane, wagon, foot, horse, and even exotic animals such as elephants and camels.
This year, over 500,000 shoebox gifts are slated for delivery to the Philippines, where many children and families are struggling with a lack of basic necessities in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. As Samaritan’s Purse responds to the disaster, providing tarps for shelter, food, clean water, and medical care, we also hope to provide a small glimmer of hope and joy to the children who have lost everything. A simple gift of small toys, especially items that will immediately be embraced such as dolls and stuffed animals, can show a child that someone loves and cares about them.
“If you come upon a starving, struggling, sad child on the street, if you are at all humane, you will provide for that child’s basic needs. You will give them food, water, shelter, safety,” said Sue Vilic. “However, if you love that child, you will also provide comfort.”
GET INVOLVED: Find out everything you need to participate in Operation Christmas Child, including how to pack a shoebox gift, your nearest drop-off location, and how to discover the destination of your box.
Sue grew up in war-torn Bosnia. Shootings and bombings afflicted her surrounding neighborhoods, and many people were nearly starving due to food shortages. But despite the devastation around her, she found hope in an extraordinary gift when she received a shoebox during the winter of 1993-94.
A little girl named Jenny from Ohio sent a shoebox gift to Sue containing a Barbie toothbrush; shiny pencils and erasers; notepads; a pink and purple hat; gloves and scarf; a coloring book; a My Little Pony; and her favorite gift—a pair of pajamas with glow-in-the-dark stars.
“You may feel that it is silly I cared so much about my pajamas while people around me were getting shot and starving,” Sue said. “At the time, I didn’t understand it either. That little blue box made me happier than a piece of bread did.”
For her, the shoebox gift was the extra measure of comfort that made the greatest impact.
“Being provided with food is normal and expected,” she said. “However, being provided with love is exceptional. Being comforted is miraculous. And receiving Milky Way pajamas when I knew I didn’t have to have them meant exactly that to me—that somebody loved me and wanted to comfort me.”
Please join volunteers around the country and world in sharing this kind of comfort that can be sent through a simple shoebox gift. Remember to pray for each child who will receive shoebox gifts this year, specifically that they will feel loved and comforted, despite their current circumstances, and that they will get the opportunity to receive the greatest gift from God, Jesus Christ.