What did you receive for Christmas last year?
How about the year before that?
And before that?
I’m guessing the majority of my readers need to think hard to recall what gifts they’ve been given for Christmas, birthday, or other events in recent years. I know I do. That doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate or like them. It probably just means I have received much.
Suppose you had received only one gift in your entire life. Do you think you’d remember what it was? Who gave it? Would you cherish it? Might you still have it?
Somewhere this year, a child will receive the first gift he or she has ever—and may ever—receive. He will remember. Will it come from you?
Thanks to Operation Christmas Child, this scenario will repeat itself millions of times as the program continues to grow.
In 1990, Damaris Vezantan lived with her parents in Romania and was one of the very first children to receive an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift packed by someone like you. She still remembers the occasion. The Eastern European nation was just coming out of decades of brutal leadership, and conditions were so bad that water was available only until noon each day.
“The shoebox I received when I was nine included items like soap, a small doll, crayons and markers, hair clips, and a notebook, with a locket that I still have.” Damaris said.
The box also included a picture of the family who packed it for her, with a Bible verse on the back: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15, NIV).
“Reading the verse over and over and trying to remember it, I saw it right there: “For God so loved the world that he GAVE. It was the greatest lesson I learned that day,” Damaris remembered.
Today, Damaris is a Canadian citizen and participates with her family in Operation Christmas Child. She has even travelled to Senegal and presented children with shoebox gifts in person, watching the joy on their faces as she recalls the impact such a gift made in her own life.
For some kids, finding a notebook and a few pencils in their shoebox means the difference between attending or not attending school. When you consider the ripple effects a gift like that can make as one child receives an education and the trajectory of their life changes, you can see how something so little can mean so much. That’s why they call it the ripple effect. You touch one tiny spot on the water, and it grows all the way to the shore.
You will probably never meet the person who receives your gift or hear their story of the way it changed their life.
Then again, you just might.
You’ve got until November 24 to pack your box and deliver it to the Portage Mall. Don’t miss out! The one who said “it is more blessed to give than receive” knew what he was talking about--he gave the greatest gift of all. Let’s spread the love around and do our part to keep those ripples moving all the way to the shore.