For the past eight years, our church has participated in the Operation Christmas Child program, which is part of the Samaritan's Purse organization. The premise is that shoeboxes are packed full of items, like small toys, candy, hygiene items, stuffed animals, dolls and other things that might make a child happy for Christmas.
|This is my favorite photo from when we packed shoeboxes!|
And for the last three years, Gracie Lou has gotten to help pack the shoeboxes.
The church collects items throughout the year and then selects a Sunday in November to pack the shoeboxes. When they started, the church filled six or eight shoeboxes, and this year, they filled 150. Once the boxes are filled, they are sent to a central location and then mailed to children in need all over the world. For some children, that small shoebox full of items may be the only gift they receive.
|Grace's first shoebox!|
When we arrived at the church this year, the organizers had set aside several boxes for her to fill for two to five-year-old girls. I put her in her stroller, and she and I went through the items every time. Each box got a package of soap and a washcloth, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a handmade hat, pencils, activity book, rubber duck, doll, candy and a Beanie Baby.
|Grace really liked helping to pack the handmade hats!|
Last year, Grace was able to help pick some of the items. This year, she just held the box on her lap, while I packed it for her. I wish she understood exactly how important what she was doing is for these children and their families. Grace is a sweet girl, and I know she'd have a generous heart too. She may not understand, but I feel blessed that we can be a part of the program.
The very last box we filled was extra special. Grace's preschool class also helped with the boxes by creating a handprint with a poem that reads "This is my hand. When you place your hand on mine, think about me. I prayed for you to receive this box. Please pray for me too." Grace and I say a bedtime prayer together every night, and it warms my heart to know that a child somewhere around the world, may be praying for her too. When I opened up the last box, which was not one the organizers had set aside for her, I teared up a little to find a little yellow handprint and the name, Grace.
|Grace and all the kids did a great job packing shoeboxes!|
Although Grace doesn't understand much about presents or giving or helping those less fortunate, I know that she enjoys being part of it. We are planning to pick out an angel from the Angel Tree this year too and taking Grace shopping with us. And the smile she gives us will be present enough for everyone.