Back2Back staff member, Sammy, knelt down with her phone in hand so sets of brown eyes could see the screen. They watched as children from around the world received red and green shoe boxes and opened them to find treasures inside. The children in the video were smiling, and as the children at Douglas Children’s Home watched, they began to smile, too.
“Today we are going to do this,” explained Sammy. “We’re going to choose gifts to go inside these shoeboxes and we’re going to send them to children somewhere in the world. Today we are going to do something to make others smile.”
As the doors to the dining hall opened, long tables were lined with gifts prepared for the children to select. Coloring books, glue sticks, crayons, and toothbrushes were some of the things up for grabs as each child was handed a box and asked to fill it with goodies.
Operation Christmas Child is an initiative Samaritan’s Purse began that seeks to provide a box of joy to children all over the world at Christmas time.
“We are always talking to the children about giving,” explained Sammy. “And we are often telling the children relationships are about giving care, not just accepting it; we wanted to provide a way for each child to pour into someone, as they’ve all been poured into. This felt like the perfect way to do that.”
To help the children at Douglas Children’s Home prepare and pray over the boxes was a middle-school group from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. The team of seventh and eight graders brought labels for the boxes, donations to fill the boxes with, and tracking labels so the children can see where their boxes end up.
While the children were walking around, filing their boxes, Sammy would call out, “Who are we packing these boxes for?” and the children would respond excitedly, “Other kids!”
Anticipation filled the room as each box was lovingly filled by a child and then prayed over before attaching the tracking label.
“We want to reiterate the truth that kindness is key in making others happy,” said Sammy.
Each child filled their box and closed their eyes over it in prayer – for the child who will receive it, for the blessing of the items inside, and for the hope of kindness felt. With a prayer completed and a label attached, the children at Douglas Children’s Home were reminded when we give to others, we are blessing each person involved in the gift. They were reminded when we give to others, we are allowing dignity to be a part of everyone’s story.