In February a team of Operation Christmas Child staff and volunteers went on a Discovery Trip to Fiji to distribute shoeboxes filled with gifts by generous supports of Operation Christmas Child.
Kim, one of the ladies who went on the trip writes “For many living in the poor villages, where poverty limits choice and life is simply about survival, the response of the children to the shoe box gifts was profound. I will never forget the noise and excitement of the children as they opened their boxes. Squeals of delight pierced the air followed by excited chatter as friends shared their gifts. The very young children who were completely overwhelmed by the excitement and joy just stared, some choosing not to open their box in an effort to contain the intense feelings of the moment.”
The team experienced two unplanned distributions, which left lasting impressions on them. They delivered shoeboxes and prayed for sick children and their families in the Lautoka hospital and witnessed children and mothers react tearfully as boxes were given to children of inmates in Lautoka prison. Francois, the North Island regional manager who lead the team, said “What an amazing experience – to not only see the children and witness their joy but also to see the joy it brought to the volunteers, the joy on the faces of the volunteers was greater than even that of the children.”
Following the first shoebox distribution in Labassa, the first two children Francois spoke to had received shoeboxes packed by boys from Helensville who had put their name and address on their letters. Francois took a photo of the recipients. We were able to track the Helensville family down and present them with the photos. What joy that bought, not only to the boys in Fiji, but also to the boys who sent them.
Francois also wrote “My two boys Jaden and Joshua packed ten boxes last year. They added letters to each box with our address. The day before I left for Fiji they received a letter from a boy who received one of their boxes. When we were in Labassa I had the privilege of meeting Roland and his parents. It was such a blessing for my boys to not only have a letter, but also a photo of the recipient.”
Kathy, a volunteer on a Discovery trip in Cambodia, writes, “We were doing a shoebox distribution in Cambodia. We had unpacked all the shoeboxes in order of gender and age onto the desks in a classroom. The children who had received their boxes had to sit down and hold the box on their head so we could see who had not yet received one. Because of this it was easy to spot those who were yet to get a box. As I looked over the children I realised six children at the back of the group were still standing without a box. I remember saying there were no more boxes and six children were still empty handed as the countdown to opening the boxes started. I turned and walked back into the empty classroom and saw three boxes on the desk where previously there were none - right in the doorway where no one could have missed. I remember squealing, “Three more boxes quick get them out.” That left three children still without boxes. Again I turned back into the classroom and something or someone prompted me to look to the left of me. There in the corner on the floor were three more boxes. Now I knew there were no boxes in that room as I had searched for more when the last boxes were taken out. Again I remember shouting “Three more boxes, let’s get them out.”
A worldwide survey of charities was recently carried out. Operation Christmas Child, Samaritans Purse is the third most transparent charity. What a worthwhile charity to support. Last year New Zealanders packed 31,576 shoeboxes for children who may never have received a gift before. What do we pack in the shoeboxes? Something to wear, something for school, something to play with and something for personal hygiene.
If you would like more information contact Nancy on 0272 779 039