It’s still over 2 months until Christmas. But you can already feel Christmas coming: Christmas cookies are on the shelves, oranges are coming in season, and “Operation Christmas Child” will be open for donations very soon. For those of you who aren’t familiar: “Operation Christmas Child” is an organization that delivers Christmas gifts to kids in impoverished communities. People donate wrapped shoe boxes filled with gifts and drop them off at designated places. Since the boxes should be delivered by Christmas, you need to get them ready by mid-November. So, I got ready early this year and slowly collected materials for 6 boxes, 3 boys and 3 girls. A few months ago I bought art supplies, a few weeks ago I got pencils, today I got candy, etc. Some people question the value of such a project: Don’t you put local shops in poor nations out of business by sending stuff for free? Shouldn’t you rather invest in long-term job opportunities and infrastructure, and doesn’t this short-term stuff make people dependent on donations? I am well aware that donations are not a long-term solution to end poverty, and that Christmas gifts are not the most urgent need. But I still support this cause for three reasons: one, the organization chooses the recipients carefully, two, this one-time gift does not replace long-term ministries, and three, the gift shows a child that they are loved. Toys may not be essential. But when you never had a toy or gift, you tend to develop a mentality of “there is never enough” or “no one cares about me”. A gift communicates to a child that someone in another country cares about them. And the gifts will hopefully be of use to the child for more than a few days.
In that sense, I am happy to get creative with the things I give these kids. I made a few stuffed animals and a pencil case from recycled materials. I added some things from around the house that I no longer needed and that were never/rarely used (no worn-out stuff!). And I will wrap the boxes very soon.