This year, one of my closest friends is heading up Operation Christmas Child at our church. The mission of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Read below about how you can help a child during the Christmas season.

1. Tell us about OCC

Operation Christmas Child is one of the ministries of Samaritan's Purse. This ministry is all about sending a simple gift around the world to a child in need. Last year the United States collected 5.2 million shoe boxes filled with small toys, candies and hygiene items. These boxes are sent to over a hundred different countries where they are given to children along with a comic book about the gospel in their language.

2. What stories have you heard about children that have received boxes?

I have heard so many stories that have shown me how present God is in this ministry. I know that when you decide to pack a box that God has already picked out who will receive it. Start praying for that sweet little child and as you walk through the store God will let you know what he or she needs.

There are two stories that stick out the most to me. One is about someone who put a five pack of toothbrushes into a box.  People kept asking "Why are there five in here?" but they didn't take them out they just sent them along. When the box was given out, it turns out that there where five people in the child's family that received the box. God knew the need and put in on the persons heart who packed the box.

There was a little girl who told her mom she did not want to go to school, the reason was that her shoes were embarrassing. They were beat up, messy and put back together with wire. Her feet would get wet on the way to school and then be cold as she wore them all day. She tried to convince her mom to let her stay home that day. After her long walk to school she sees that the kids all have these boxes. She goes to get one herself and when she opens the box there is a brand new pair of shoes. Immediately, she asked who had given her this box and the gospel was shared with her. Today she lives in the US and packs boxes for Operation Christmas Child every year.

3. Why did you decide to get involved?

Our church is a Collection Center, which is where all the boxes from the Montgomery area come to be sent to the processing center.  There was an announcement in church at the end of July that there was a need for a coordinator. I immediately felt like it was something that God was telling me to look further into.

4. Why is this organization so important to you?  Tell me how it has impacted your life.

Operation Christmas Child has become very important to me over the past few months. When I began working with this great ministry I knew it was amazing ministry for kids. I have now had the opportunity to hear and see some of the kids that it touches. Getting more people involved has really became a passion of mine when I heard these numbers: in the US we collected 5.2 million shoe boxes, Mexico City alone as 6.6 kids who would benefit from one of these shoe boxes. Even if every box from the US went to Mexico City we would still be short. That simple stat fires me up to get everyone I know to make a box. We are told in Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." I know it is not always easy to take off and go on a mission trip across the world. There are issues like taking off work, getting the money raised but here is a simple and easy way to directly impact one child a world away.

5. How can others get involved?

There are so many different ways to get involved! You can pack your own box and take it to a drop off location near you. Pack any standard size shoe box full of small toys, hygiene items and school supplies. For about $20 you can fill a box completely!! Check out http://www.samaritanspurse.org/OCC/ to find a drop-off location, ideas of what to pack, downloadable labels, and ways to track your box to see where it goes! National Collection Week is November 15-22 so get packing!!

You can also contact your locate Collection Center Coordinator to help with the packing and loading of the boxes from your area. This is a major need because each Collection Center pack thousands of shoe boxes to be shipped to the processing centers.

Year round volunteers are needed to help with preparing and promoting National Collection Week. There are needs for people to help with Church Relations, Community Relations, Prayer, Promotion and Area Coordinators. These positions are a great way to take the next step in getting involved on the next level. No matter what your spiritual gift there is a way for you to become more involved with OCC.

Your simple gift will change a child's life. That child will have a present to open at Christmas and because of that gift they will hear about the love of Jesus.

To donate a box to a child in need this Christmas, click here to get started.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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