I can vividly remember the joy and excitement of my 1st grade Christmas party at Wright's Mill Road School in Auburn, Alabama. My memory is vague on the treats we consumed and the games we played, but I do remember the sweet mother who made each student a wooden spoon puppet. Each spoon was carefully painted for each student with their hair color, eye color, and name perfectly applied in delicate brushstrokes. The boys' spoons were adorned with red and white gingham ties, and the girls had similar bows in their hair. Even now, I can instantly feel little girl excitement upon receiving this unique gift in the Christmas season of 1973.
Even at this young age, I understood that someone had done something special for me, and then they did it for all those around me. Someone had taken care, time, and attention to do something special for others, and this is just like our church-wide Operation Christmas Child Project. Each year our youth students promote the filling of shoeboxes for children in the United States and all over the world to receive as part of the celebration of Christ's birth. Through Samaritan's Purse, our loaded boxes are packed, shipped, and distributed around the globe along with the Story of the Gospel. Most often, our boxes head to Central and South America as well as to areas within the United States.
Over the last three years, our youth ministry has taken the next step in partnering with Samaritan's Purse by volunteering at the Regional Distribution Center in Dallas. Our students devote a day to ensuring boxes have the appropriate items, collect monetary donations, tape, scan, sort, and pack shoeboxes into larger transportation boxes. We take this job very seriously, as we want each child to receive a box that is age-appropriate and complete.
If you would like to join us in our mission, please pick up an OCC box in the Welcome Center or grab an empty shoebox at home and fill it with items for a girl or boy. You may find approved and age-appropriate gift suggestions at Samaritan's Purse.org or with the flyers we have in the Welcome Center. Please return the filled boxes to the church by November 24, and then you will have become part of the FUMC/OCC Team! On Sunday, November 24, we will pray over our Christmas boxes. On December 26, our youth will take them to Dallas, where will help process approximately 10,000 boxes on our shift.
Imagine the excitement of a child opening a box and going through all its precious contents that YOU have taken time to fill and pray over. Jesus continually reminds us to love one another and what better way than to see that love returned through a child's eyes who has discovered someone has prepared a gift for them.
May your participation be just the beginning of a wonderful season of preparation for Christ's birth.
Janice Crane, Youth Director