OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD is a project of Samaritan’s Purse. It’s getting the message of charitable love out to many millions of kids at Christmas time, via the tangible gift of as many items that can be safely crammed into a standard-sized shoe box.
In the items to be packed in each box, there is what I call six colours of love represented:
1. Something to Love
How important is it that children have something, like a teddy, soft toy or doll to just cherish. Just how many of us didn’t have something like this when we grew up? My teddy, the now-bedraggled Michael, still takes pride-of-place on the mantelpiece.
There’s a larger message. We all need someone to love, and reciprocally, someone to love us back. For the loneliest of all people, those without family and friends otherwise, it’s our prayer that at least they’ll find love in the church. And we all have a role to love people as a time-kind friend.
2. Something for School
Whether it is pencils, paper, glue, stickers or a counting game, we all know the value of education in a child’s life. We cannot truly love children without providing for their future needs, and education caters for the future needs of grown kids, and their rightful quest for independence to live, more than any other practical thing.
Still, again, in our community, and not least with ourselves, love comes via the form of opportunity—these are so often driven later from the education and further development we invest in now.
3. Something to Wear
It might seem so simple, and our thoughts around clothing are often so ambivalent, but one or two items of clothing to a poor child is going to absolutely turn their world! Apart from food (which cannot go into a shoe box for these purposes) and adequate shelter, there could hardly be a higher or more basic need than clothing.
And we all feel better in new and decent clothes. Clothing becomes an extension of ‘who’ we are, whether we like it or not.
4. Something to Play With
Kids play. Can we imagine a Christmas for kids without toys in it? Children are almost best loved by way of things to play with. Play rounds out kids’ imaginative development and helps them become ‘free’ people, able to escape into a world of fantasy—a world they’ll so often enjoy re-visiting throughout the rest of their functional lives.
We’re all loved and feel loved by way of the ‘toys’ we play with, the sport we engage in, and the play activities we enjoy—these are all important at every point in the lifespan. It’s not just kids who need to play...
5. Something for Personal Hygiene
Speaking again to the lower order needs of necessity, health and wellbeing needs are constantly in focus, especially in places throughout the world where there is not the health and medical care we’ve often taken for granted.
As we pack these shoe boxes we can also easily ask ourselves, “How’s my health and personal hygiene going?” It’s never a bad question to ask. See how poor children we don’t even know can remind us how important basic hygiene needs are.
6. Something Special
Love is finally the categorisation of something unique that can help us know how genuinely special we are as individuals. How important is it that the receiver of such a gift could know that they are the only ones with that/those item(s)?
We all desire to feel this way; that the things we have, those we acquire, the traits that are present about us... that they’re all ‘us’ and no one can compare. Let’s never underestimate the importance of personal identity—every human being is loved uniquely by God.
Love is Quantified by Met Needs
We’re loved in the fact of met needs; the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs helps us understand this. Love is manifest most powerfully in meeting the practical needs of people in the form of kindness and compassion, in tangible generosity.
Six colours of love are plainly identified; each of them ooze their own useful nuance of love—a love that reeks truth via the way it enhances life, and that, in many quite undefinable ways.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
For more information on the work of Operation Christmas Child, go to: http://samaritanspurse.gotdns.org/