Every fall, the spirit of Christmas giving comes early for the millions of people whose churches, parent groups, or other organizations are involved with Operation Christmas Child (OCC). However, it’s not about fulfilling the satisfaction of a loved one’s desire for the latest gadget on the market, but helping provide the basic necessities for children in countries that are suffering around the world. Although, fun toys are often slipped in to add a little smile to these children’s faces.
The Beginning of Operation Christmas Child
On October 10, 1990 a couple from Wales, Dave and Jill Cooke, were devastated by the destruction in Romania and the impact that it was having on the children in that country. They wanted to try and figure out a way that they could help the children’s lives be just a little bit brighter. They knew they couldn’t stop the fighting, but they knew they could offer the gift of love. Thus, Operation Christmas Child was born.
The couple worked together to fill a caravan of nine trucks filled with medical supplies, clothing, food, and Christmas gifts for children and road into the war torn country of Romania. Then, in 1993, Franklin Graham, the International President of Samaritan’s Purse, adopted the Operation Christmas Child program. Under Samaritan Purse’s guidance, more than 61 million shoe boxes filled with everyday essencials, toys, and the Word of God have gone out to more than 135 countries.
Deciding Where Operation Christmas Child Gifts Go
During the average Operation Christmas Child season, shoe boxes are delivered to children in over 100 countries around the world who are in need. Occasionally, if there is a specific country that has encountered a deadly natural disaster, war, or is going through a particularly difficult situation, then OCC will focus in on that specific area. However, most often, OCC does their best to reach out and bring gifts and the Gospel to as many children around the world as possible.
Each country has a leadership team that distributes and decides on the specific location in the country that will receive the shoe boxes. These teams are comprised of volunteers that work all year long on all aspects of OCC, including logistics, ministry outreach, setting church relations, and prayer support. Depending on the need of the country, and the capacity of the leadership team to be able to distribute the boxes stipulates the number of boxes sent to each location.
How To Fill An Operation Christmas Child Box
Filling an Operation Christmas Child box is very simple. There are only a few rules that one must abide by. The first thing one must do is decide if one wants to make a box for a boy or a girl and what age range. There are three age range categories to choose from: 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. The next step is filling the box with gifts!
Once a person’s decided on what age range they’re buying for, think of what a child that age would like to have and start shopping! But don’t worry if shopper’s block occurs because one can always go to the Samaritan’s Purse site and they have a list of gift ideas that can help. It’s always a good idea to add soap, a hair brush, toothbrush and toothpaste, school supplies, and then move on to the fun stuff.
The Impact of Operation Christmas Child Abroad
In August 2008, the country of Georgia was attacked by Russia forcing those who survived the bombing raids to flee for their lives. Two of those people were Bograte and Nana. Nana was seven months pregant at the time. They were able to initially flee their town by car, but when it ran out of gas they had to continue on foot, a difficult task for pregnant Nana.
In December, OCC representatives blanketed the area where the couple fled to and, out of the 350 boys and girls that received gifts, their two month old baby was presented with a shoe box. Borgrate thanked the volunteers and explained that it was only because the family had the hope of God that they were able to make it through the difficult circumstances.
At a refugee center outside the capital of Georgia, fifty children listened to a sermon from the Bible and words of encouragement about what was happening in their country. A member from the Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in Georgia explained that they had gifts specifically for them from America to encourage them in their time of difficulty. Each child received a box and all together opened them up to see what they received.
Operation Christmas Child is an organization founded on the principle of giving and love. It has been able to help children all over the world receive everyday items that people in places, like America, would take for granted.