We’ve been celebrating Operation Christmas Child on my Twitch stream for the entire month of November 2020. OCC is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies are sent to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease. For some of these children, it may be the first gift they have ever received, or the only thing they can call their own.
I have been filling OCC shoeboxes for many years, and this year I committed to filling 20 boxes myself, and to do each live on stream. I also created a goal page on OCC’s website, to see if I could have my shoebox count matched by my friends, family, church family, and Twitch viewers. (Link: https://build-a-shoebox.samaritanspurse.org/view/1f792a85-85b5-45a4-b815-2d58924dde30 ) I am beyond grateful for the response. My dad stepped forward and donated the $9 shipping per box ($180 total). My aunt sent $100, and viewers sent cheer bits, which we used to build boxes online, in the days after the shoebox drop-off deadline. We hit the 20 shoebox goal! You *multiplied* my 20 boxes with 20 more. AND we had money left over from all those subs and cheers to donate outright to OCC to “use as needed”.
It is hard to put into words what I learned through this experience. I learned that I am capable of asking people to help – something I was pretty uncomfortable with when this started. I saw that the people around me, including my online friends from all over the world, are supportive and generous. Then, something surprised me… someone I had gotten to know elsewhere on Twitch visited the stream and saw what we were doing. She told us she had received an OCC shoebox as a child. She remembered it smelled of candles, and contained socks and a drawing of an angel, made by the child who packed the box for her. She still has the drawing. Suddenly, the effect of these little shoeboxes was personal. It was no longer a story told through official OCC videos and advertising, with smiling anonymous children on shoebox day, and Sunday school lessons they received. It was someone we knew, and it had meant something to her – something she still held onto. And all those boxes we sent out this month? They’ll go into the hands of children, who will someday be adults, who we may someday meet. And those adults will remember those shoebox gifts – and hopefully will remember the love of God, and of the people of God. (That’s us.) Somehow, that’s much more meaningful than just seeing the day they open the boxes.
I’m looking forward, in the coming months, to seeing where our shoeboxes go. What parts of the world will they travel to? Will they go to children who have suffered through a natural disaster? Will they help children who live in poverty? Will they go to a country where my new online friends live?
Thank you to everyone who participated in OCC this month. This is certainly something we will do again. In fact, beginning in January we will do a charity stream for OCC on every third Thursday.
God asks us all the time to do things – many of which we don’t understand. Sometimes they seem like really small things – giving someone change, buying someone a meal, packing a shoebox. We may never know the impact our little shoeboxes will have. And that’s kindof the point. If we knew, if we really understood, the potential impact…we would feel compelled to do it. We wouldn’t really have a choice – wouldn’t have free will. But God lets us choose…and sometimes the smallest choice has an impact larger than we can even imagine.
How have you been affected by learning about OCC this month?
What impact does it have on YOU when you choose to do something you do not have to do?