Operation Christmas Child.

(234 Posts)
AgitatedAtheist Tue 24-Sep-13 21:12:07

Hi,

I'm not actually a parent - I'm a teenager. (I come in peace.)

At school a couple of days ago we were told that we would be supporting the Operation Christmas Child program. I don't agree with them, and I wonder what their motives really are. If anybody agrees with me, I want to ask if I should try and do anything about it.

The reason I've asked on here is because I wanted the opinions of some people with a bit more experience.

Thanks in advance smile

IsleOfRight Tue 24-Sep-13 21:15:28

I have a problem with the evangelical nature of their operation and unless you go to a faith school (do you?) I would take your concerns to the head. You could suggest a non faith alternative eg donating Christmas food to food banks.

I would love to know of similar shoebox schemes in uk or elsewhere that are not faith based.

DoItTooJulia Tue 24-Sep-13 21:16:16

I've never liked this scheme. Here, poor kids, have a toothbrush and a bible pamphlet from those kind Christian folk in the UK.

oh, what? You're a Muslim/Athiest/Martian....sorry, you can't have it after all unless you come to bible class.

sonlypuppyfat Tue 24-Sep-13 21:18:58

Oh my gosh our churches last lot of boxes went to muslim children. How can you disagree with a simple treat for very poor kids.

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 24-Sep-13 21:22:24

This comes up every year.

Read this:
https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/humanists-doing/good-causes-and-charities/samaritans-purse/

If last year's thread is anything to go by lots of people will be along soon accusing you of taking Christmas presents from poor children. But there's more to it - OCC is not a gift freely given, it's a gift with strings attached.

There are better ways to give.

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 24-Sep-13 21:23:31

IsleofRight the Rotary scheme is an alternative:

www.rotaryshoebox.org/

Notmyidea Tue 24-Sep-13 21:26:01

I live in a town where they enjoy a high level of support from several churches and the schools. Even as a practicing christian I share your reservations. When I've looked at their website I've not been reassured that they practice evangelism in a manner I'm comfortable with. Trouble is I like and have a huge amount of respectfor a number of people who work very hard to support them. Do you have a student council you could raise it with? Maybe suggest another charity instead for next year? I take a rather passive approach and neither support nor criticize, personally.

pookamoo Tue 24-Sep-13 21:30:29

Have you seen the "Mary's Meals" backpack project as a possible alternative to suggest to your school?

The problem I can see you will be faced with is that if they have already announced their involvement, it is very tricky for them to change their mind. You might have luck convincing them for future years though.

As a parent of a primary school age child, I am faced with the same dilemma (and they haven't announced it yet!) and not really sure how to stand up and say "we're not doing this" without making my daughter who is only 4 feel left out of something for reasons she doesn't understand.

AndHarry Tue 24-Sep-13 21:30:36

Alternatives:

- Mustard Seed Relief Mission does boxes.

- Mary's Meals gives free school meals to children in poor countries and organises the Backpack Project to fill backpacks with school supplies do children can access schools.

We do Operation Christmas Child at church. I'm not 100% comfortable with it and the above seem to be better options.

AgitatedAtheist Tue 24-Sep-13 21:30:51

No, I don't go to a faith school. I've been looking at different schemes - this is a good article from the Humanism website: https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/humanists-doing/good-causes-and-charities/samaritans-purse/

sonlypuppyfat, I don't disagree with poor kids getting presents, but it would be nice if they didn't get religious propaganda in with their presents!

AndHarry Tue 24-Sep-13 21:31:45

Great minds pookamoo grin

Poledra Tue 24-Sep-13 21:35:20

Agitated, the company I work was going to allow this charity to come into our workplace last Christmas. I wrote to our UK head, explaining my reservations about OCC, and saying that, while it was my choice not to support it, I didn't think that a global company should be supporting this charity. The invitation to the charity was later withdrawn, and we chose to help our local foodbank instead.

This site might be useful to you, and it might also be useful to know that DFL, Oxfam and the Co-Op have all withdrawn their support from OCC in the past.

AgitatedAtheist Tue 24-Sep-13 21:37:31

Thanks to everyone who has replied - I'll be mentioning some of the alternatives at school tomorrow smile

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 24-Sep-13 22:18:03

pookamoo my boys' school announced it last week.

I have spoken to them about it, they are a bit older than your daughter though (8 and 7) and we have sent an Oxfam goat instead.

If anyone asks them why they are not filling a shoebox they will say "no, we are not, we have sent a goat instead and if you want to know why please ask my crazy atheist mum."

edam Tue 24-Sep-13 22:22:18

Agitated, I faced a similar problem re. ds's school. I think OCC is unethical and exploitative of both children who are donors and those who are recipients.

It was too late for ds's school to stop the project that year, but they've never gone near OCC again - instead we worked with Mary's Meals backpack project, which has already been linked to. It was great for the kids at ds's school as well as, I hope, for the kids in Malawi.

buttermellow Tue 24-Sep-13 22:32:13

My local area do two alternatives - donating boxes to local church's orphanages/centres for trafficked females in Moldova/Romania, or donating boxes to the charity for homeless/those in poverty in the local area.

Both schemes don't push religion on anyone and have very few restrictions on what you can and can't give, which is fantastic when you want to give chocolate, nice smellies or hand-knitted things etc.

Am hoping to do a box for a teenage girl this year (age 12-18). DM is doing two for girls aged 6-10.

Mary's Meals are fantastic, my gran supports them and usually does that instead of Christmas presents.

IsleOfRight Tue 24-Sep-13 22:44:10

Thanks for the alternative links especially the rotary one

acsec Tue 24-Sep-13 22:47:32

I'm in charge of the Xmas shoebox scheme at my school, and thanks to MN I am not supporting OCC this year but Link to Hope

serin Tue 24-Sep-13 22:57:13

Good for you agitated smile

I am a practising Christian but totally agree with you, a gift should be given freely and not with strings attached.

I have a close friend who is Muslim and she finds it insulting that OCC seeks to convert Muslim children. You can imagine the outcry here if it was the opposite way around with Muslim organisations going into schools with boxes of gifts for Eid if you attended Islamic class.

We give to water aid.

No strings attached 'just' the gift of clean water for whoever needs it.

IsleOfRight Tue 24-Sep-13 23:21:14

Anyone know of any shoebox type appeals for uk kids (or adults).

Sorry to thread hijack - I'd love to get the kids involved with putting a box of gifts together for kids in the uk who won't be getting anything.

SignoraStronza Wed 25-Sep-13 08:09:30

Hello. The organisation, Samaritans Purse is headed by Franklin Graham. He is the son of right wing, homophobic American evangelist buddy of George Bush, Billy Graham.

The organisation is essentially an evangelical one, with the shoeboxes being used as a tool for proselytising.

The American version of their website is far more explicit in its aims bit had been toned down for the British market.

Can't link on my phone but there are interesting Guardian articles on it and a website called:

pursestrings.ca

My child's school tried to do this last year so I calmly went to them, with print outs of some of the articles, and explained to them why it was not the greatest of projects to be involved in. They were horrified and withdrew their support. I looked up alternatives (e.g. women's shelters etc) so it didn't feel likeI was being totally negative!

They are very good at marketing to schools and provide a lot of literature to tie in with the key stages, so is a very easy option for a Christmas charity endeavour.

Good luck.

JennyPiccolo Wed 25-Sep-13 08:13:53

Save the children were collecting stuff for kids in the uk a few years ago, I donated some stuff for refugee and asylum seeking kids in glasgow.

SelectAUserName Wed 25-Sep-13 08:32:52

The company I work for supports our local Child Protection services at Christmas. We donate presents for children in care who wouldn't otherwise get very much/anything. IsleofRight, you could consider contacting your local Social Services department and see if they would benefit from something similar.

MrsDavidBowie Wed 25-Sep-13 11:32:56

Kids Company always welcome presents for teenagers at Xmas.

Edendance Wed 25-Sep-13 11:55:31

I was gutted when I found out some 'truths' about this organisation as I wanted to put one together last year and was put of by things I had heard and did some research. Have a look online and decide for yourself but to me- bribing poor children to 'convert' from their family religion to Christianity so they can have a present is wrong on many, many levels...!

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