Monday, December 1, 2008

We did the coolest thing today

This afternoon we went to the Operation Christmas Child distribution center where they receive all the boxes, check the contents, then load them into cargo containers to be shipped all over the world. Today was Family Day where they did tours showing kids exactly how a box moves from packing to being opened by a child.

We arrived at the warehouse with 10 packed boxes that we'd collected from friends and our Sunday Bible Study. We took 2 of them and colored pictures and filled out info sheets and stuck them inside the boxes while the morning chaplain explained the significance of a shoebox. He shared how each box is prayed over and told stories of the impact a single box has had. One box was filled by a couple who included their contact info and received by a young girl in one of the "-stan" countries. She wrote them a letter to say thank you and mentioned that her real wish was for a family, since she was an orphan. The couple was childless and went overseas and adopted that little girl. They shared their story and inspired many other families to adopt children from that country. All because of one box. Another box went to a girl in Belarus who's father was inspired to quit drinking and become a Christian. A whole family changed by one box.

The next stop was a relay race where the volunteers told the kids what kind of stuff couldn't be put in a box. No chocolate, no liquids, no mirrors, no snakes, no pokemon, no money, no toys with camoflage or war associations to name the big ones. Some of it has spiritual significance and some of it could put the child in danger.

We saw the forklift loading the cargo containers, we saw the stations where the volunteers go through each and every box, pulling out anything that shouldn't be in there and replacing it with something similar that fits the rules. They put on a Kenyan-style church service for the kids and even let them have the experience of opening a shoebox of their own filled with information about the organization.

Did you know that they pass out all the boxes and do a countdown to open the boxes so that everyone opens theirs at the same time?

Did you know that some shoeboxes are delivered by camel?

Did you know that each distribution center has a Shoebox Hospital where boxes are repaired if their lid has cracked or they've gotten crushed?

We were very impressed with the whole place. The people were great, the tour was well-organized and tailored to the needs of active children, and it was wonderful to see just how much difference one small shoebox can make in the life of a child, a family, a city, a country, a world.


Will Stranathan said...

"Another box went to a girl in Belarus who's father was". I think you mean "whose".

I'm the grammarian about whom you've been warned.

Valerie said...

Yeah, you try to write a coherent blog post with one child yelling from the bathtub that the water is too cold (she'd been in there almost an hour) and the other making constant commentary about commercials. So, pbbbttt!

Nancy said...

Very informative! I did not know about the "hospital" or the countdown. Love the shoeboxes.