Operation Christmas Child.
We have done several of these boxes over the years. You fill the shoebox with items for a specific gender and age child - they give you specific guidelines and you provide the cost of shipping it and off it goes....to a child in poverty.
This year I have been having a hard time doing this.
I guess I just really feel burdened that nothing I put in those boxes is really going to help.....or help enough. This year the boxes are supposed to be going to Haiti which I have learned a great deal about from these two amazing ladies Tara Livesay and Heather Hendrick. This is a place where the depths of unimaginable poverty are plumbed every day by very small children, women, everyone trying to live there really. Life is so hard. And it's hard in far too many other places too.
Part of me really believes nothing in a shoebox is going to make any difference.
But the other part of me believes every human needs some joy, some hope to stay alive. Children love opening a gift (heck I love opening a gift). Sometimes just having something that is new and is just for you can be a treasure all it's own. Sometimes knowing someone, somewhere cared enough to pack a box and write a note lifts your heart. Maybe it's not about the stuff at all - it's about love and joy and hope - connection and caring. Or am I trying too hard here?
And children here in Canada need the exposure, the chance to do something. To understand that what is in that box may be all a child gets as a gift - all year - maybe ever...... it might help them review their Christmas list.
So we packed the boxes as full as we could with things we really hope are both useful (soap, a toothbrush, school supplies) and fun (bouncy balls, toy cars, stickers and candy).
I wish I had the funds to build a maternity centre to save lives in Haiti, or a school in Tanzania, or a clinic in India, or a well in Rwanda but until I win the lottery I hope we make a couple of children happy.
Sometimes it's better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing... but in this case I think it's better to fill the shoebox and send it with hope and a prayer that it helps in some way in some faraway place.