This post is not about food. In fact, it’s barely about a budget. But it’s something important to me that I think is worth sharing. Maybe some of you can relate to my story, my situation. Maybe you’re in my shoes, or will be in my shoes in the next couple years. If anything, it gives you a glimpse into our lives outside of food. I hope you enjoy.
My kids know that Christmas is not about presents. I remind them – often – that it’s not about how many toys are wrapped under the tree, that they’re not promised to “get” anything and should instead focus their attention on being thankful for what they already have. Consider my face blue. They know the real reason of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
But no matter how many times I tell them, they still point out toys they wish they had or think about unwrapping “all the presents” that will be under the tree. Will be… as if it is certain to happen.
I thought me telling them was the same thing as me as teaching them, but apparently that’s not the case. So I’ve changed my approach. Instead of telling them about the meaning of Christmas, I’m showing them.
Participating in Operation Christmas Child has been an idea floating around in my head for a few years now, but I’ve always put if off. We’re too busy, we’re going out of town, there’s not enough in the budget, they’re too young to understand…
I’ve always made excuses.
Until four weeks ago when I had the privilege of hearing a young man named Alex share his story of how a single shoebox changed his life. His entire family was killed by genocide. He was taken in by his aunt who sadly, soon became ill and also died. Left to grow up in an orphanage at the age of 4, he soon received a shoe box that changed his life.
His story is truly heart warming, and if you have a few minutes today, I encourage you to watch it here.
Hearing his testimony at Allume made me wonder – what can I do to teach my kids to give? How can I show them that they are fortunate to have socks to wear, a clean toothbrush and soap for their hands?
And what about me? How blessed am I to have socks on my feet, have extra toothbrushes to clean with and even spare toys from prior sales?
Several years ago someone took the time to put together shoebox filled with small, seemingly unimportant items that completely changed Alex’s life. A bar of soap, a comb, a candy cane. This box was a seed planted by someone simply trying to do something good. God took that seed and gave Alex gifts of forgiveness, hope and love.
How many times have you wondered if what you do makes a difference? If maybe there was just one little thing – something that wasn’t overwhelming or complicated that you could do that would actually make an impact on someone else’s life.
This year marks the first year we’re participating in Operation Christmas Child. It’s a tangible effort that both my littles and myself can see, touch and understand.
- They chose each item.
- They packed the boxes.
- They’ll drop them off.
- They know it’s all for a little girl or boy that’s just like them.
It’s a small opportunity for us to create a family tradition of giving to someone else because we have been blessed with more than we could ever possibly imagine.
For those concerned about the cost (which was me too), it’s not an expensive endeavor. $10 can get you a filled box without trying very hard or planning ahead.
Of course as frugal people, we know how to really stretch that money. I promise that as the new year ensues, we’ll be paying better attention to deals and sales so we can add more to each box, or maybe have enough to fill a third box and bless another child.
Here’s how we filled our boxes this year for $10:
From the top left:
- grab & go play packs (because it contained crayons, stickers and a coloring sheet) ($1ea)
- hot wheels (from toy stash)
- peppermint scented erasers ($1/4pk)
- candy canes (33¢ea)
- pencils ($1/8pk)
- chap-stick ($1ea)
- socks ($1ea)
- steno/writing pads ($1ea)
- soap ($1/3pk)
- toothbrushes ($1/3pk)
- combs ($1/12pk)
- hair elastics ($1)
- yo-yo’s ($1ea)
- washclothes ($1/2pk)
- princess figurine (from toy stash)
- silly putty ($1 ea)
Total cost of each box, including the re-usable box and lid itself = $10.69
We found most of the multi-pack items at our local Dollar Tree. That will be my first stop next year since nearly everything we wanted to get them could be bought in “bulk” for the same price as Target, and then divided up into each box. We’ll probably start with a great list of ideas from this page too.
The kids enjoyed picking out items for “their Christmas kid.” There was definitely a learning curve with them used to browsing for themselves, but the more they worked with these items and the more we talked about it, the more they understood. We’ll be dropping off the boxes later today, so I’ll update the post with pictures afterwards.
Are you wanting to teach – to show – your kids how to give? May I suggest Operation Christmas Child?
National Collection Week is November 18-25. Starting today you can drop off your filled box to any drop-off location (find one near you). If you’ve never done this before and think it’s too late, think again. You can build a box online, start collecting items for a box next year or give the most powerful gift of all – prayer.