We were so excited to volunteer at the Operation Christmas Child center in Atlanta on Saturday night! For many years, we have packed boxes and worked at our local relay center, but this is shoeboxes on steroids!
The when we got there at 5 pm, they had already processed 81,000 boxes for that day ~ the goal was 100,000. At 10, they announced that we had processed 108,000 boxes. Goal met and surpassed. Frankly, I could have kept going. It was that much fun!
I did the pre-inspection and the inspection parts of the process. In the pre inspection, you open the crates full of boxes from the relay centers ~ look in each shoebox for the donation envelope for shipping and put it in the lockbox (on each table) ~ then pass the box to the inspectors. The inspector empties the box and takes out any items that shouldn't be in there ~ repacks the box and adds filler items if needed. If your box comes to the center 1/2 full, it leaves completely full.
Un wanted items were in many boxes ~ over 1/2 that were inspected. No liquids means ~ no bottles of glue, no shampoo, no conditioner, no lotion, no hand sanitizer, it means no liquids. No food means ~ no packages of cookies or crackers or any food. No war toys ~ no army men, no cap guns, no ninjas, etc.
We had the privilege of hearing from a young lady who was volunteering, and as a child she was a shoebox recipient in Honduras. This young lady talked about being given her box, as a 5 or 6 year old in the orphanage where she lived. It was the first gift she had ever received and the first personal possession she owned. She was thrilled to find a toothbrush in her box because in the orphanage she shares a toothbrush with 25 other girls. She was excited about pencils in her box ~ at the beginning of the schoolyear, each child was given a pencil and a notebook and they had to last all year ~ if not, they were punished. She was so excited about her box, that she slept with it every night and when she was at school, she hid it in the ceiling of her room so that no one else could get it. At the age of 13 or 14, she took her box and went off by herself really angry and questioning the Lord as to why she was in an orphanage and why her siblings were all adopted ~ she opened her box and the Lord spoke to her heart through the little note the giver had put in the box with the goodies ~ "I love you and God loves you." Soon after, she was adopted by an American family and brought to the USA. She was able to finish highschool and attend college. While in college, she played soccer and has been able to take her soccer team to Honduras on Mission Trips. And volunteer at Operation Christmas Child.
So each box is more than a "simple gift", its a reminder to children in very difficult situations and conditions that someone loves them and was thinking of them. Its a way to show the Lords love. It can be a way the Lord draws these precious little ones to Him.
What did I learn through this experience ~ my shoeboxes will have packages of pencils, not just a couple ~ notebooks and school supplies are needed and wanted ~ I should start putting personal notes in the boxes ~ continue to pray for the children that receive the boxes, for years.
And Greg's reaction, as this was the first time he had been involved with this ~ "we need to make this an annual tradition"!
If you would like any additional information on how to be involved in this awesome ministry, please leave me a note or go to "Operation Christmas Child" and read about the ministry an how you can help. Its too late to pack a box this year ~ but you've got 12 months to collect goodies for boxes for next year.
The boxes from Saturday were going to the Central African Republic.