While browsing Monica’s blog the other day, I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on Operation Christmas Child myself. And this week is a good time to do it as the boxes are due on Sunday and I have some work to do to get ours ready.
What we’ve done for the past few years is to allow each of our girls to give one box for another girl her same age. Instead of using normal shoe boxes, we buy a good-sized plastic Rubbermaid container. The rationale behind this is that the child (or family) can use the box for a long time after Christmas and it won’t get banged up two weeks later.
Speaking of getting banged up, the main thing I wanted to communicate is that I’ve noticed a trend that suggests folks fill their shoeboxes with cheap gifts from the dollar store. I’d like to encourage you not to do this. Why? Because there’s a reason the gifts from the dollar stores are so cheap – they are cheaply made (read: poor quality). I think the good-hearted American Christians who are planning to participate should take a good hard look at what they are actually giving and ask themselves, “Is this a gift I would buy for my own child?” If not, why not?
I don’t usually buy my children’s gifts from the dollar store because I want the gifts to last longer than two weeks. Ideally I’d like them to last a long, long time and even possibly pass down to a sister at a later time. For the children who will receive the shoe boxes, this just might be the only special thing they get all year long – it may be the only special thing they get EVER. And when the cheap toys break, they can’t run back out to the dollar store to replace them. It’s simply gone.
I’m not suggesting you go into debt to fill the shoe boxes, nor am I saying go to F.A.O. Schwartz to fill them. Wal-Mart can be your friend for this project and sure, go ahead and throw in some small, inexpensive extras. But wouldn’t it be extra special for your child to receive a gift that they can keep their whole childhood? Something that was made with some durability to last, and allow them to share with their siblings and friends? Just something to think about. And now, I’ve got some shopping to do…