It’s time to fill our Christmas shoeboxes!
Like many others in churches, workplaces, schools and community groups across the country, our family has filled shoeboxes with gifts to share with children in other parts of the world this Christmas.
The shoebox appeal.
We’ve been packing shoeboxes for a several years now as our church supports Operation Christmas Child, run by Samaritan’s Purse. Their shoebox appeal started back in 1990, when the first boxes were sent to children in orphanages in Romania. Since then, more than 124 million boys and girls in over 150 countries have received shoeboxes filled with gifts via Operation Christmas Child.
Although it’s important to think of others and support charities throughout the year, it seems even more significant at Christmas time. It certainly does for our family, when we think of all the blessings we have in our life. Just by virtue of being born in the UK, our children have so much more in relative terms, compared to children in other countries who’s lives have been turned upside down by war, disasters and famine. That’s not to say children in the UK don’t face challenges too: as a voluntary debt advisor in Nottingham, I see how hard it can be for families here to make ends meet.
I realise sending shoeboxes filled with small gifts and toiletries to children at Christmas might seem like a drop in the ocean in a world where there is so much suffering, but I believe it does make a difference. It also sends the recipients of a box a message that people on the other side of the world are thinking of them. I’d urge you to think about sending a shoebox this year or perhaps support another worthwhile Christmas campaign organised by UK charities. It’s a lovely thing to do as a family and it helps our girls to understand how important it is to give as well as receive at this time of year.
For our family, as Christians, we love being involved in the shoebox appeal because it’s lovely to be able to give something back. We’ve been given so much and we want to share the good news of God’s love in a practical way.
Filling a shoe box to send to children in need around the world doesn’t have to cost much but it can mean so much to the recipients, who often have little or nothing to call their own. We picked up some lovely gifts and toiletries from our local pound store, but if budget is an issue, you may even be able to find unused pens, pencils, toiletries and things in your own home you can add to your shoebox. The only other cost is £3 to cover the cost of transit. If you can’t find a shoebox, Operation Christmas Child provide shoeboxes in return for a small donation (we gave 50p for each of ours).
Sending shoeboxes at Christmas time to children in need around the world is such a simple gesture, yet it makes a difference to them, as do the other essentials and supplies provided by Samaritan’s Purse.
Watch this short video about the Journey of a Shoebox.
Other ways to give.
If you want to fill a shoebox this Christmas, there’s still time. Operation Christmas Child has ‘drop-off’ points across the UK where you can take your boxes between 1st -18th November. For more information and to find your nearest drop-off point, click here: Operation Christmas Child.
Other charities run similar shoebox appeals at Christmas and at other times of the year too, including: Link to Hope.
You can also support families and communities around the world by sending alternative Christmas Gifts. For example, via Oxfam, you can buy someone you love a gift that changes lives instead, like a flock of chickens, a mosquito net, textbooks or a goat. For these and many other life-changing or life-saving gifts, see www.oxfamunwrapped.com.
Over to you.
Are you planning to fill a shoebox this Christmas? Have you considered buying or receiving a gift from an alternative Christmas gift catalog to pay for essential supplies and equipment in parts of the world where they need them?
As always, I’d love to hear from you.