Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

One of My Favorite Projects…

Today I am sharing one of my most favorite projects with you. It’s one that our family participates in every year and gets a lot of joy out of doing. In fact, you may also do it with your family or at least have heard of it–it’s called Operation Christmas Child.

What is it? Operation Christmas Child is a ministry run by Samaritan’s Purse that brings Christmas gifts to children around the world. Basically, people can get a shoebox or shoebox-sized container and fill it with toys, candy, school supplies, and hygiene items that an impoverished child would delight in receiving. Samaritan’s Purse has distribution centers set up that then work at delivering these shoeboxes to many different countries, having them ready for children to open on Christmas day.

To me it is an easy, practical, and fun way to bless someone else around the world. We not only do this as a family, but for the past few years I have gotten my Sunday School class involved as well (I teach elementary aged kids). I believe it helps teach kids an attitude of giving rather than getting. They LOVE putting these shoeboxes together. Here’s some pics of what we did this past Sunday:

The week before I usually make a huge trip to The Dollar Tree and buy a bunch of items at once. The Dollar Tree often has about everything we need to put in these, including the plastic shoebox-sized tubs I like to use. Often I end up with a big cartload and people look at me like I’m nuts! I then set up an assembly line of all our item choices–school supplies, hygiene items, toys, etc… The kids get to choose whether they want to make one for a boy or a girl and also the age group it will be for (2-4, 5-9, 10-14).

After they’ve chosen the gender and age and I go over some of the rules, I pretty much let them go to town picking out things and putting them in their boxes.

Often after we have our boxes assembled I have the children each make a card for the child who receives their box. However, this year we got these wonderful preprinted worksheets where they can fill out info about themselves, including their address if the child wants to correspond with them. One year our family did get a letter from a boy from one of the West African nations who thanked us for his box.

If you would be interested in more information on these, check out samaritanspurse.org.┬áIt really is a wonderful way to give back and bless a child who may have never gotten a Christmas present before. Oh, and in case you want to get started, I though I’d share some things that we typically put in our boxes:

Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, lip balm, pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, stickers, crayons, playdoh, bouncy balls, jumpropes, slinkys, matchbox cars, small books or notebooks, markers, barrettes, headbands, toy jewelry, tops, small frisbees, small stuffed animals, candy, gum, lollipops

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

Kids on a Mission…How Refreshing!

As my two youngest boys are currently sleeping, I just had to do a post on what we did today. The reason they are exhausted is that it is VBS week at our church, and they are getting to bed a bit later than usual. True to form (for my kids, at least) they were all up at a little after 6 in the morning. Then, late this morning, we finally went up to Water Street Ministries in Lancaster to donate our Hope Totes, a project we’ve been working on for a few months. My Dad, who is a men’s chaplain there, also had lunch with us and gave us a grand tour of the facility. As we pulled out, my oldest kids commented on how good it felt to just give things away. Yes, it does, I agreed with them. Then a prime “teachable moment” struck me. The theme for our VBS is Water to the World, and also teaches that if you refresh others, you will be refreshed. I was able to relate what we were learning in Bible school to what we experienced by giving to others. Though our gift was very tangible, you can refresh others by giving of your time, talents, or spiritual gifts. In this way you can not only bless, or refresh others, but be refreshed yourself in the process!

A trunk full of Hope Totes. We ended up with @30 to give.

For the back story on our Hope Tote project, check out my Couponing for a Cause post from several months back. I plan on continuing to collect items as I get good deals with coupons and sales.

Posing in front of the WSM sign.Posing with Grandpa in front of a cool mosaic.

Chaplain Jim (aka Grandpa) was our tour guide for the day, showing us all around the WSM campus, including the donation center and warehouse area. I was amazed by the volume and variety of items people donate to this organization. The need is great, however. In fact, when I had pulled up my van to the donation area, a huge line of people had formed to get into the food pantry area and were watching us unload.

Mama and her brood on the loading dock.

I am actually a little conflicted about posting this, but I’m going to anyway. The reason is I don’t want people to think I’m just some do-gooder who is giving themselves a big ole’ pat on the back. Here’s why I am sharing what we did–to inspire others to give in some way, whether it’s giving of your time, talents, or treasures. I can guarantee that if you choose to give and choose to honor God with your gift, whatever that may be, you will not only refresh others, but in turn YOU will be refreshed.

The back of our VBS T-shirt reads: Water to the World. Refresh Others. Be Refreshed.