GUIZERIX: The greatest gift, given in a shoebox

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, December 7, 2022

When I was a child, my parents instilled in my brother and me the importance of giving to others, especially at Christmas time.

One of the most impactful things we did was pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. It started small, with us just packing a box apiece, one for a little boy my brother’s age, and one for a little girl my age.

However, over the years my family’s dedication to the project grew. Each year in mid-November, a group of our church members would gather and we’d enjoy a potluck dinner and have a box-packing party. We’d all bring in toys of various shapes and sizes, as well as toiletries and other things children in third-world countries might appreciate.

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It was a well-oiled machine, with ladies wrapping the boxes and an assembly line of people filling them with each item, saying a prayer that it would make a difference in a child’s life.

At church the following Sunday, we’d pile all the boxes in front of the altar and pray over them. Then, the boxes would be transported and eventually make their way to one of the Samaritan’s Purse distribution centers, to be shipped around the world.

At first, as a child around 6 years old, I loved filling the boxes each year because it saddened me that some children out there didn’t get a visit from Santa Claus. But as I grew older, I began to understand that what we — and millions of other people across the country — were doing wasn’t about toys or toothbrushes or colored pencils and paper.

Instead, it was about the items that were added to the boxes right before they were shipped to their final destinations: A children’s devotional book explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The boxes weren’t really about Santa Claus or any of the commercial trappings of Christmas at all. They were physical manifestations of Christ-like love for our fellow man.

To this day, the shoebox gifts are a manifestation of the calling to be the hands and feet of Christ, as stated in 1 Corinthians 12:27. “Now you are the body of Christ, and individually members of it.”

In the upcoming weekend edition of The Vicksburg Post, as part of the religion feature written by reporter John Surratt, we’ll hear about a local church that answered the call and contributed shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child.

Thank you to all in our community who went out of their way to send shoeboxes to a child in need this Christmas.