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Posts Tagged ‘Operation Christmas Child’

Last year we took part in Operation Christmas Child for the first time.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this appeal, basically you fill a shoebox with presents and useful items for a child somewhere in the world who is otherwise likely to go without, wrap it in Christmas paper and the charity Samaritan’s Purse will deliver it to those in need. It is something we feel really captures the true spirit of Christmas and is also a really good way to remind our children just how fortunate they are to have all the toys they have, and all the basic essentials of life right on tap.

This year, like last, Lilly and I went on a special trip to the supermarket, armed with our Operation Christmas Child leaflet, to get all the goodies we were going to need to fill it with lovely treats. Although Lilly was only 2 (nearly 3) when we did this last year, we quite often still talk about the “little girl in another country who hasn’t got many toys” and how we sent her a Christmas present last year, so she does still remember. Now, at nearly four, Lilly was really excited to buy the little girl some more presents, and started off by saying: “I will send her one of my toys because I am going to share with her!”

Off we went around the supermarket picking up some crayons, a colouring book, stickers etc… we also bought some toothpaste and a toothbrush (which Lilly insisted had to be the same as hers at home), some bracelets, bangles and other girly things.

Of course Lilly did quite often say: “Can I have one of those too?” so I kept reminding her how many toys and things she had, and how the little girl didn’t have many at all. She was allowed a set of stickers though!

I couldn’t quite get everything I wanted to in the supermarket – I wanted a little dolly and something cuddly which I had to pick up on a seperate trip, but we got everything in the end… so here is our finished effort…

To anyone who hasn’t done this before, I would really recommend it as a lovely, very visual way to introduce the concept of charity and giving to young children. Not only that but it teaches them that Christmas isn’t all about receiving, it’s about thinking of others and being generous and kind to.

It is obviously something that sticks in children’s minds for quite a while, which is great. And, if you donate the £2.50 postage fee online, Samaritan’s Purse will email you to tell you exactly where your shoebox ended up, so you can remind your little one about the little girl or boy they helped at Christmas time.

I very much hope that taking part in worthwhile charity efforts like this will help to develop my children’s kindness, generosity and consideration for others. And we only had one minor meltdown when I showed Lilly the little cuddly dog I bought to go in the box: “I wanted to keeeeeepppp himmmmm” she sobbed…

But then again, she is only three 😉

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Among the many qualities I hope to instil in my children is a charitable spirit, consideration for the feelings of others, kindness and a willingness to do nice things for other people just ‘because’.

So I was excited this year to take part in Operation Christmas Child with Lilly for the first time.

The idea is simple: You donate a shoebox of fun toys and useful items and Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organisation which runs Operation Christmas Child, delivers them to children who would otherwise go without at Christmas.

Amidst all the excitement of Christmas preparations in our house, the debating of whether to buy Lilly this present or that present and the inevitable decision to buy them both (!) this is a great way for adults and children alike to be reminded that not everyone is as fortunate as we are.

So, after explaining to Lilly what we were going to do – buy some Christmas presents for a little girl like her, but who lives a long way away and who does not have any toys, we set off to Asda to look for suitable gifts. On the way, Lilly decided that the little girl we were buying for was called Jill (after listening to Jack & Jill Went up the Hill) and we chatted a little bit about ‘Jill’ and how happy she would be that she would get some presents at Christmas from Lilly.

We took our shoebox into the supermarket to make sure what we were buying would fit, and we referred to the instructions Operation Christmas Child leaflet to make sure we were buying the right kinds of gifts.

The advice is to include something from each of the following four categories: 

Toys e.g. bear, soft toy, tennis ball, finger puppet, jigsaw, yo-yo…

Educational Supplies e.g. felt pens, pencils, colouring book, picture or puzzle book, chalk, stickers…

Hygiene Items e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hairclips, soap, flannel…

Other e.g. sweets, gloves, sunglasses, hat, bangles, necklace…

We had a good look around and Lilly made a few (inappropriate) suggestions before we settled on some plasticine with shape cutters, a mini My Little Pony, a teddy bear (toys); crayons and a colouring pad (educational supplies), toothbrush and toothpaste (hygiene items) and a packet of jellybeans (other).

Back home and it was time to wrap and decorate the box.

Lilly helped by applying (lots) of glue to the outside so that I could stick down the Christmas paper, and then by drawing inside the boxes to make them look pretty too. Then we packed the stuff inside and included a photo of Lilly and Isla with “Happy Christmas from Lilly and Isla in England xx” written on the back.

Now all we have to do is drop it off at nursery before the deadline (which is fast approaching, by the way, if you want to take part too), and then once Christmas gets a little nearer I will remind Lilly about our box and about ‘Jill’, and we’ll also talk about her on Christmas day too, so that Lilly can imagine her opening the gift we sent. I haven’t had a proper look yet but there are some videos on the Operation Christmas Child website which I might show her so that she can understand.

Lilly is still a little young to properly understand what this is all about, and I think it is currently beyond her comprehension that other children don’t live exactly the same kind of life as her, let alone have to go without the things she takes for granted. But it’s never too soon for her to learn to be considerate and caring towards others and I’m sure we have both got a lot out of taking part in this really worthwhile appeal.

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