Do you want to make a difference in the world? You can, without shelling out a tremendous amount of cash. It can be done with as little as $15. Perhaps less if you are a frugal shopper. It requires that you think like a child. More precisely what a child might want in their Christmas gift. It is a mission outreach coordinated by an organization in Boone, North Carolina called Samaritan’s Purse. The particular Project is called Operation Christmas Child and is administered with the aid of a simple shoe box filled with toys, toiletries, school supplies, candy and much more.
This mission outreach opportunity was unique in that it did not require hundreds or even thousands of dollars from the person taking part in the mission opportunity. There are few children within the United States, save those in economically affected situations who will be satisfied with such a small amount spent on their Christmas gifts. The children around the world who benefit from Operation Christmas Child are an exception. If not for this program many of them would have no gift at all.
I was blessed during this time to be in a larger church with many eager participants in such a ministry. We had done a smattering of shoe boxes, but I saw an opportunity to do much more.On December 31 of 2006 I asked our pastor to allow me to share my vision with the church of what I felt like we could do. I stood before a nearly full sanctuary and shared a new goal of 400 shoe boxes to be shipped in November of the following year. I know there were plenty of eye brows that shot up, but I felt like there was an ability to make this a reality and that we would be blessed accordingly.
To my pleasure, I found there were others who shared my dream. We met to organize the process and began collecting items for the campaign. The main item to collect in the beginning was the shoeboxes. To say the response was unexpected is an understatement. Shoe boxes began to accumulate at our designated drop off container and the new focus became where to store them until time to begin assembling the boxes.
We also began searching the clearance aisle at every store we saw for discounted items to include in our gifts. I became a very accomplished bargain shopper, looking for quantity buys every time I was in a store. The task became easier as more people bought into the idea and the supplies began to accumulate.
The first year we far exceeded our expectations, totaling 476 shoeboxes. It was an amazing experience and was a good opportunity for everyone to be part of a mission opportunity without having to get out of their comfort zone.
2008 – More organization, a better result
By 2008 we were humming along, enjoying the success of the previous year and the continuing extension of interest as people saw that what we were trying to do could be done, even if it sounded incredibly impossible that last day of 2006.
It was easy for people to look for Christmas gifts for kids even if it was just after Valentine’s Day. You see that is when large quantities of stuffed animals stocked by the stores are offered a reduced prices. I had several buggies stuffed to the gills that I collected and added to our stockpile for a very good price.