Saturday, November 15, 2014

A New Tradition

We packed our first Christmas gifts today.  Despite being familiar with Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, for several years, I had not prioritized getting boxes ready and kept pushing it down on my "mean-to-do" list.  Determined to change that this year, I took J & Sarah out and we had a great time.

If you are looking for a way to model thankfulness in your family and to just plain have fun, please consider checking out OCC and packing a box.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider packing a box for Operation Christmas Child:

1. It's personal.
The box you put together will be opened by a specific individual, just like any other gift you will give this year.  This is the only charitable organization that I know of that transports gifts instead of using donations to purchase items and services needed in a particular country (though they do that too).  OCC is very hands-on and tangible for involving children.  You are encouraged to include a note to the intended recipient.  The OCC site also has a coloring sheet that can be completed by your kids and packed.  And if you give the estimated shipping cost ($7/box) online, you can track your box to its end destination.  You might even gain a penpal if you include your address in the note you send!

2. It's transparent.
89 percent of monies raised by Samaritan's Purse goes to funding its incentives. It has an overall rating of 95.9 by Charity Navigator and a rating of 100 for transparency and accountability.  This is a trustworthy place to give.

3. It's low-cost, high return.
You can pack a great box for $25.  You can  build one online for without leaving home or you can head down to the local Supercenter and gather materials.  I bought hygiene products (soap, toothbrushes and paste, chapstick, hair ties), small toys (coloring books, puzzles, stickers, hard candy, whistles), essentials (pencils, socks) at the Dollar store.  I think our store stocks items that are specifically on the OCC list because I found a ball pump today, a suggested item, as well as flip flops, which are obviously out of season now, another suggested item. I went next door to Walmart for a few special items like a basketball and HotWheels car for my boy box and soft baby dolls for the girls. I also got better brand art supplies there.  My most expensive item was $7 (basketball), and most were $1.  There is even a Pinterest board with low cost ideas.

4.  It will bless a child in need.
This isn't a guilt trip, but y'all, for the cost of a casual meal out, you can give a child a present that has long-reaching effects.  Each item in your box will honestly knock their socks off.   A dollar store toy will be played with and put in the toy basket tomorrow at my house, but it will be treasured by a child who may have never received a Christmas gift.  The gift is more than the gift.  Samaritan's Purse is a Christian organization whose mission is "helping in Jesus' name".  Many children who receives boxes also gain 12 weeks of bible lessons about God's love.  If you are looking for the real meaning of Christmas-- that God gave-- here's a great way to kick off the season.

5.  It will make you happy!
Buying gifts for a child is fun.  So is stuffing a box to the brim with goodies.  Believe it or not, if you let your kids know for the outset that your shopping trip is to buy gifts for others, they will not beg for toys on the toy aisle.  Giving is medicine for the gimme-gimmes.

What'dya say?  Ready to start a new, meaningful tradition right before we enter the season of thanks?  Do it!  And let me know if this convinced you!

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