Operation Christmas Child: Packing Shoeboxes for Children, with Children

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It’s something my husband and I have done for years and years: packed a shoebox or two full of toys and hygiene items and candy and trinkets for a child overseas. It’s not hard. It’s not very costly. And yet, it can change another child’s life.

I learned this firsthand when I got to hear Alex, a recipient from Rwanda, speak at the Allume Conference last year. (I would urge you to watch this video about Alex’s testimony, although please screen it before you show it to your kids. There is a lot about the genocide and war in Rwanda.) Alex’s life and heart were truly changed, all because someone cared enough to pack a little shoebox – and then Samaritan’s Purse was able to minister to him, following up with him, continuing to share the gospel story with him.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, and literally millions of boxes have been delivered worldwide since the ministry’s inception in 1993. Personally I think OCC is an amazing way to introduce your children to the ideas of poverty, giving, and having a multicultural worldview.

Here are some tips for packing shoeboxes with your own children.

  • Let them choose which gender and age group to pack for. Often kids will want to pick out things that they like themselves – so maybe choose to pack for a child the same age and gender as your own.
  • Add homemade elements: ask your child to make a Christmas card, write a letter, or draw a picture to go in the box. If he or she is older, maybe he can crochet a small scarf or sew a fleece lovey or even make a rubber band ball.
  • Explain gently that these will probably be the only gifts this child will receive this Christmas. Answer questions in a straightforward and truthful manner, but don’t over-explain.
  • Pray over the boxes and ask God for guidance on what items this child will need.
  • Make sure to include hygiene items, even though they aren’t as much fun. What toothbrush and toothpaste do you kids like? What soap? What about a comb or brush? A trip to the Dollar Store can go a long way to completing your shoebox with toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, bar soap, and a few fun hair bows.
  • Remember the rules! Here are the items you should not include: used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Will you pack a shoebox this year? Even if you don’t have time to shop, you can still put one together online on the Samaritan’s Purse site for $25. Smart!

Box drop-off is November 17-24. If your local church is not collecting boxes, you can find a collection site here.

We’ve Got a Job to Do!

In the July 2009 ParentLife editorial I wrote about a chapel service I attended this year. Ms. Ford led her first graders in a program about sharing the good news. Over and over again, these adorable first graders repeated, "We’ve got a job to do!"

This service made me wonder how we do — together as families — sharing the gospel or participating in service projects that communicate God’s love to others. Sometimes when we are so busy that we struggle to spend time together having family devotions, it is difficult to take the next step and plan those service projects together. But it is well worth the effort!

fom_logo_featured.jpgOur church holds a weekly summer Kidz Club in a local apartment complex that we have participated in with our boys. They see the reason we are there is to love those kids and tell them about Jesus. Service spurs a greater understanding how we are all responsible for carrying the good news of Jesus to others.

If you are looking for a longer time of service for your family, the North American Mission Board has several family mission trips available in their Families on Mission program. These trips are designed for the entire family to participate together. There are two more trips this summer. Find out details here.

What are ways that you witness and serve others as a family? Are there specific ways you tell others about Jesus over the summer months? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Baby Boot Camp by Amy Hammond Hagberg

32_Mother_Newborn.jpgFor most first-time mothers, the prospect of caring for a newborn produces serious apprehension. For unwed teenage mothers, that sense of anxiety is multiplied exponentially. To alleviate some of that stress, The Kentucky chapter of the Baptist Nursing Fellowship (KyBNF) developed an innovative program called Baby Boot Camp based on the devotional book of the same title by Rebecca Ingram Powell.
 
During the five-hour seminar, young mothers learn the fundamentals of infant care. Most of the participants have no idea how to care for a baby, so the first component of the program is baby basics. Under the tutelage of a professional nurse, students use lifelike dolls to learn how to hold, feed, burp, bathe, and diaper their own bundles of joy.

The second component of the program focuses on wellness. “We teach them that in order for them to be totally well, they have to be mentally well, spiritually well, and they have to be physically well. In order to take care of themselves and their babies, they have to be happy in life,” says BNF President, Jessica Childers.

At the end of the day the new mother’s get a big surprise … a baby shower! Each of the girls is sent home with a laundry basket overflowing with donated baby supplies. The baskets are so heavy that the girls need help carrying them out.  For many of them, the generosity of strangers is overwhelming.  

The Baby Boot Camp program has been a wild success. To date the KyBNF has held a dozen camps and has reached more than 100 girls and their families. In response, they have just written a “How To” guide for use by other state organizations that are interested in adopting their ministry.

Amy Hammond Hagberg is an author, speaker, radio host, wife, and mother. Amy’s award-winning work has been featured in publications all around the world.  Learn more at www.amyhagberg.com.

Baby Boot Camp is a very special ministry to parents in need. What ministries are you involved in or know of that relate to parenting?