Looking for a service project to involve your students in this year? Try Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization.
As described on its website, Samaritan’s Purse “has helped meet the need of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Operation Christmas Child invites individuals to gather age and gender appropriate items such as toys, personal hygiene products, school supplies, clothing items, candy, and personal notes with pictures. All of the items get placed in a box with a donation of $7 (to cover shipping and program costs) and get dropped off at a designated location near you.
From the drop-off points, boxes get distributed worldwide in time for Christmas. Specific destination countries vary each year, but some of the previous countries receiving boxes have been Sudan, Mongolia, Mexico, Russia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
National Collection Week is from November 16th-23rd. There are a number of ways that you can participate in this program. Here are some options for you.
1. Family Service Project: Order promotion materials from the website www.samaritanspurse.org and promote this as a family service project. In this case, families will work together to create a box. In our family, each of our children create a box for a child of the same age and gender. We talk about the project, take a big shopping trip, pack and wrap the box, write letters, enclose a family picture, and pray for the recipient and his/her family.
2. Children’s Church Service Project: Choose to have the children participate in the project as a Sunday School Class or Children’s Church. In this case, print out a list of suggested items for a particular age group. Boys would buy for boys and girls would buy for girls. Set a collection date for the items and wrap the boxes during class. Write letters, draw pictures, pray for the children, and enclose a photograph also.
3. Go shopping! This may take some effort, but it sure would be fun and memorable. Have the students each bring in $5-$7, get some parents to chaperone, provide transportation (or get permission to use the church van), and head out to a dollar store or inexpensive department store with your students. There, purchase the necessary items for the boxes. You may want to even treat your students to breakfast or lunch following your shopping spree. Head back to a central location and prepare the boxes for drop-off.
Whatever you choose to do, have fun and be a blessing! On Christmas Day, remember to pray for your child’s safety, health, well-being, provision, and joy. Pray that children around the world would be open and receptive to the gospel that will be shared through the ministry of these shoeboxes.