It’s that time of the year again. This is the time when people start buying school supplies, shoes, clothes, toys, and begin looking for that one Wow item for each one of their shoeboxes. Operation Christmas Child volunteers are gearing up for National Collection Week this November 13-20, 2017! This is the one week per year where millions of shoeboxes will be collected from millions of individuals all across the United States and then processed and shipped off to more than 100 countries around the world.
Last year I wrote an article called Top 10 Reasons to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox! The year before that I wrote, 3 Reasons Pastor should encourage their Churches to Volunteer with Operation Christmas Child. If you didn’t already know, I’m on staff at Samaritan’s Purse, specifically on the Operation Christmas Child team. You might say that I’m biased, you’re right.
I didn’t end up at Samaritan’s Purse by accident, I specifically wanted to work here. So although I may be biased, it doesn’t mean that what I’m saying isn’t true.
My goal here is not to answer questions like, when is National Collection Week? What can I pack in my shoebox? How much is shipping? Or where’s the nearest drop off to me? You can find the answers to all of those questions at our website, https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.
What I’m going to do is to talk about things at a little bit of a broader and more general level. I’m going to write some reasons why you should love Operation Christmas Child and why you should participate.
1. Operation Christmas Child is led by a volunteer in your community
Many times, when I hear someone complain about the Operation Christmas Child model, it’s really born out of a lack of understanding about how the organization works.
Although we distribute shoeboxes in over 100 countries around the world, we do not have staff in over 100 countries around the world.
This is how it really works. Highly dedicated volunteers in your local community in the United States are working all year long with churches, community organizations, Christian schools, and local media to promote Operation Christmas Child and get ready for National Collection Week.
Shoeboxes are packed by individuals, collected at churches, and then sent to warehouses we call Processing Centers where they’ll be prepped to ship internationally.
At over 100 countries around the world, local volunteers will receive these shoeboxes and then follow their predetermined plan of distribution by partnering with local pastors who have developed plans to use shoeboxes to engage their communities.
That means that local Pastors and Community leaders in the Philippines volunteer to work with churches in the Philippines to distribute shoeboxes in different communities throughout the Philippines.
The fact is that Operation Christmas Child is always led by a volunteer in his or her own community. It doesn’t matter if it’s Rochester or Rio.
2. Shoeboxes support local communities
The reality is that there is some small but vocal opposition to the impact Operation Christmas Child can have on a local community. Almost all of this opposition comes from a handful of upper middle class Americans who somehow, have a problem with children in need around the world receiving gifts.
It must be great to be in a situation where you’re wealthy enough to determine that others shouldn’t receive gifts.
Honestly, some of these individuals might mean well. They might have read a book like When Helping Hurts or Toxic Charity and now are looking for solutions to end the cycle of poverty. The problem is, Operation Christmas Child’s mission isn’t necessarily to end poverty. It’s to bring the Hope of Jesus Christ to children in need around the world.
Unfortunately, many people who read these books end up using these books as an excuse to sit back and do nothing. Sometimes these decisions are made based off of assumptions made in ignorance.
Each shoebox is used by a local Pastor or Community Leader to serve his or her community.
Do children in other countries actually need these things? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. There are children who need notebooks or shoes in order to attend school. There are others who don’t need a yoyo, but love receiving it anyway. Can a yoyo change a life? Absolutely, read Kojo’s story here.
Will it disrupt the local economy? No. The fact is that 50 or so shoeboxes going to 50 children who probably can’t afford much in a community of tens of thousands of people won’t negatively affect the local economy.
Is this an American program pushing American policies and ideals on others? No, each shoebox is a tool used by a local Pastor or Community Leader to serve his or her community. There are no Operation Christmas Child staff members living in Colombia trying to figure out how to distribute shoeboxes all year long. All that is done by an incredible team of Colombian leader volunteers who are called to bless their nation with the Gospel, and who want to do it in a practical way.
3. Samaritan’s Purse does it better
What is it that we do better? We bring the love of Jesus Christ to a hurting world in a real and practical way. We love to do things in excellence. Think about who your go-to charity is and then compare them to Samaritan’s Purse on Charity Navigator. We’ll likely have a higher star rating and a higher accountability rating. We’re able to respond to disasters in a lighting fast way. Not only does Samaritan’s Purse have the resources and expertise to respond, but we have the will. When our leadership says, “Go”, we go.
We bring the love of Jesus Christ to a hurting world in a real and practical way.
We want to represent Jesus
Samaritan’s Purse is not affiliated with a particular church, movement, political affiliation, or even a specific culture. Children who receive shoeboxes are freely invited to events where shoeboxes are handed out and are not screened by their faith or culture. We don’t promote a religion or a cause. We want to show God’s love in a tangible way and give others an opportunity to follow Jesus Christ. That’s it.
Below are all of the Samaritan’s Purse articles I’ve written over the years.
- 3 Reasons Pastors should Encourage their Churches to Volunteer with Operation Christmas Child
- 1 Year at Samaritan’s Purse
- Never Leave a Man Behind
- 3 Lessons from 3 Years at Samaritan’s Purse
- 4 Lessons from 4 Years at Samaritan’s Purse
- National Collection Week
- Top 10 Reasons to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox
- Why Franklin Graham is grossly Underpaid
- From the US to Panama
- Operation Christmas Child Philippines Distribution Trip