We stood in the Kmart toy department for about 30 minutes, looking for gift ideas. The shopping took time because there were certain toys we knew we couldn’t buy.
We didn’t want any that required batteries, they couldn’t have any liquid or slime inside, nor could there be a chance the toy would easily break. The toys also couldn’t have any kind of military or violence aspect to it — so superhero action figures, which I naturally gravitated toward, were out of the conversation.
Then again, we assured ourselves, the kids receiving these toys aren’t going to be as picky as the kids we know might be. Many of them would be happy just to receive a toy. Heck, just receiving a pack of crayons could be one the happiest moments of their young lives.
Last Sunday, my fiancée, Sarah, and I spent about 90 minutes shopping for toys, toiletries and school supplies to pack inside of shoeboxes to be included in the Operation Christmas Child project taking place at our church, St. John Lutheran in Dickinson.
The shoeboxes will be sent to children — many of whom have never received a gift, let alone a Christmas present — in Kenya, India, Madagascar and Zambia.
In America, our toys are huge. Most don’t fit in shoeboxes. Many are also electronic or need batteries to operate, and those aren’t plentiful in third-world nations. We walked out of Kmart that day with one conclusion: Americans are spoiled and we don’t even realize it.
Sarah and I were able to fit at least a dozen items into each of the four shoeboxes we packed. They weren’t fancy gifts, but we know they’ll be appreciated by the children who will receive them.
As of Thursday afternoon, the church had collected about 860 boxes from throughout the area. Jodeen Myers, program secretary at St. John and organizer of the project, said she is hoping the church can gather 1,200 shoeboxes this year, which would surpass the record 1,103 the church received last year.
“If we don’t, 900 little kids are still going to get a gift,” she said. “We’ll see what happens, but it’s just a great outreach. I really enjoy doing it.”
So did Sarah and I. It’s truly enlightening to put your hands on a pack of crayons, a bar of soap, a toothbrush or a yo-yo and realize there are millions of children throughout the world who may have never had any of those things but soon will because of you.
Myers said some children will try to pick one item from the shoeboxes before they’re told the whole box is for them.
The Operation Christmas Child project continues through Monday morning in Dickinson. Shoeboxes can be picked up at St. John Lutheran today through Sunday and can be dropped off each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No boxes will be accepted later than 10:30 a.m. Monday.
I wholeheartedly recommend everyone picks up a box or two and buys a few small gifts for some children on the other side of the world who may never have had one. Heck, even “Duck Dynasty” star Uncle Si is doing it — that’s how you know it’s a good idea.
For more information on what items can go inside Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, contact Myers at 701-225-6747.