Operation Christmas Child provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on project of the Samaritan's Purse that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas, said Reneye Scheller, a leader.
“This has been a great opportunity to teach all the children about having a spirit of cheerful giving and learning how to express gratitude for the many blessings we have that many others can only dream about,” said Scheller.
Canadians are involved each year, filling shoe boxes with items such as: hygienic items, school supplies and toys, she said. All the children recipients are treated the same, regardless of gender, race or religion. Some of the other items that may be included are: when culturally appropriate, copies of a book, entitled The Greatest Gift, which has been translated into 130 different languages. The books are usually offered to children after the shoe boxes have already been distributed.
Following the shoe box distributions, local churches and ministry partners are equipped with a 12-lesson Bible study course, titled The Greatest Journey, which introduces children to Jesus, shows them how to receive Him and follow Him, and equips them to share their faith with family and friends.
Operation Christmas Child was started in 1990. In 1993, Operation Christmas Child grew and was adopted by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian organization run by Franklin Graham. To date, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed over 100 million shoe box gifts worldwide. In 2014, Canadians donated more than 700,474 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes for hurting children around the world.
In 2014, shoe boxes were distributed in Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Venezuela, Iraq, Equatorial Guinea, Costa Rica, Guinea, Haiti, Nicaragua, Chile (including Easter Island), Senegal, and Ukraine.