We’re here! National Collection Week is upon us. At Operation Christmas Child this year, we’re looking forward to collecting millions of shoeboxes worldwide. This is a huge deal! In just a couple decades, Operation Christmas Child has grown into a worldwide ministry distributing over 120 million shoebox gifts in over 100 countries.
Before I get into my Top 10 Reasons to Pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, I have a confession to make….. I work for Operation Christmas Child. You may call me biased, and you’d be right. But there are reasons why I wanted to work here. There are also many reasons why nonprofits and churches have tried to duplicate our model, and none come close to our ministry effectiveness. There are many reasons I can give you as to why you should pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox today, but I’ll keep it to my Top 10.
1. We’re efficient.
When you talk about bloated, lethargic organizations, many can come to mind. Not us. We’re dynamic, forward thinking, and efficient. No one gets hired to be on the team just because, nothing out of the ordinary is bought without being scrutinized, and decisions with financial ramifications must be fought for and proven. That’s how it should be. There are some nonprofits and churches trying to do what we do, but I’ll tell you this, no one can come close to matching our efficiency. Try getting shoeboxes from your neighborhood to the other side of the world (and all the training that goes with it) for $7. No one else can do it.
There are people that don’t want to donate to large organizations because they believe their funds will make a larger impact in a small nonprofit. Not necessarily. Samaritan’s Purse is able to leverage economies of scale that translate into organizational efficiencies across the entire organization. This means more bang for your buck!
2. We’re large enough to make an impact, but nimble enough to do it fast.
Speaking of efficiency. Because of our incredible donors, we have the resources to immediately respond to crises around the world, without waiting on government funds. Is there a refugee crisis? We can take shoebox gifts there right away, along with aid. An earthquake? We’re there. A flood? We’re there. Not just Operation Christmas Child, but all of Samaritan’s Purse. By the way, it’s common for us to respond before most other nonprofits and even most governments are able to.
3. We’re led by someone in your community, either in the USA or internationally.
If you think that Operation Christmas Child employees do nothing except go from country to country and hand out shoebox gifts, you’d be wrong. A small percentage of shoeboxes are handed out by Americans. We have dedicated volunteers in country, who have a passion for serving others, that can do a better job than us. As a matter of fact, millions of children who will receive shoeboxes in 2017 will do so without ever meeting an American. They may not even realize that the gifts came from America. Our concern isn’t about representing the United States, we’re trying to show the love of Jesus Christ in a tangible way.
Are you worried about the possibility of us handing out shoeboxes and changing culture in Tanzania? Don’t be, we partner with Tanzanian pastors and community leaders that are responsible for our distributions in that country. Same in Colombia or the Philippines, same everywhere.
4. We have a plan.
Before I started working here I thought, how difficult could it be to just go and randomly hand out boxes? The answer is, it’s easy, but that’s not what we do.
We have a plan, or should I say plans, or should I say extremely detailed, short term plans, mid term plans, and long range plans. We have all kinds of plans. Getting millions of shoeboxes from homes in the United States into the hands millions of children around the world is not an easy thing to do, it takes a plan and the ability to execute it well. We have logistical geniuses on the team and they spend all year long figuring out the most efficient and cost effective ways of transporting millions of shoeboxes from Main Street, USA to over 100 countries around the world. Seriously, our logistics people are pretty awesome.
5. We believe in continuous improvement.
There are many areas of what we do in which we hit our biggest goals, every year. Yet, we’re looking for improvement every year. Continuous improvement and Jesus are the only two constants at Operation Christmas Child, everything else is subject to change/improvement. We may do great this year and come January, we’re going to all meet and figure out how we can do better the following year.
6. We bring gifts to needy children.
It’s easy for us to sit in wealth and talk about how a gift might disrupt an economy or usurp the family’s desire to provide. I’ve heard those arguments and frankly, those arguments are stupid. At the end of the day, we will give a child one shoebox full of gifts for his or her entire life. Not a stream of gifts. One box one child one life. Will a yo-yo change a child’s life? Maybe. How about a candy cane? It could. Don’t believe me? Watch Alex’s story here. This brings me to my next point.
Can a shoebox change a life? Maybe, maybe not, but the shoebox is just the beginning. Children have the opportunity to join a discipleship program. The pastors who are involved in shoebox distribution receive training. Leaders in American communities are connected with leaders all over the world. American volunteers serving year round are trained to excel in their roles. This is all a part of what we do. The shoebox is just the beginning.
8. We’re part of Samaritan’s Purse.
The larger family of Samaritan’s Purse is doing incredible things around the world. Ever heard of Ebola? We’re also doing things like fighting human trafficking and providing clean water. Do you feel a calling to provide a family on the other side of the world with a goat? We do that too! This is a great family to be a part of.
You would be in shock (and slightly jealous) if you saw all the resources that we provide our volunteers. We have people that serve in specific roles within their communities, year round. These volunteers promote Operation Christmas Child all year long. We strive to equip them with what they need to succeed. I can tell you this, there are no volunteers in the world that are equipped better than they are. I guarantee it.
10. We want to represent Jesus.
We don’t represent a religious movement, political affiliations, or even a culture. Don’t put us in any of those boxes. Recipients of relief around the world are not filtered by any religion or politics at all. It’s irrelevant. We don’t even care to promote a religion. We want to show the love of God in a tangible way and give others an opportunity to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s it.