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Operation Christmas Child - what information has your school given you?

(54 Posts)
exexpat Mon 13-Oct-14 17:39:00

This is not an attempt to start another debate on the pros and cons of the Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme - that has been done to death on MN before (see last year's two long threads here and here), and as we now know, Samaritan's Purse, who run the scheme, are trying to get threads deleted and threatening legal action against some Mumsnetters (see current thread here) so I don't want to encourage anyone to get into trouble.

However, in the course of last year's threads, when the head of PR of Samaritan's Purse popped up to engage with some of the criticism, he acknowledged that in the past the information SP had provided to schools had not made clear the evangelical aspects of Operation Christmas Child, which has always been my main objection to the scheme. He therefore wrote a new information leaflet for teachers and parents which went some way towards addressing those criticisms.

It was produced too late to reach many people last year (and was hidden away in an obscure corner of the OCC website, and you needed to register even to read it) but the plan was apparently to circulate it more widely this year. In a DM to me, Brian Bennett (the head of PR) promised: "Next year expect a major revamp and unparalleled transparency - you'll have nothing to talk about!"

The leaflet is indeed now available to download from the website without having to register - it is on this page of their website, entitled "OCC - Parent and Teacher Guide".

What I would really like to know is whether this 'unparalleled transparency' is actually happening in practice. So, my question is:

If your school is still participating in the Operation Christmas Child scheme this year, what information have they given to parents (and indeed teachers) to help them make an informed choice about whether to participate? Have you been given a copy of (or sent a link to) the explanatory leaflet?

exexpat Mon 13-Oct-14 19:41:02

Bumping - is no one doing Operation Christmas Child this year?

Karoleann Mon 13-Oct-14 21:52:12

Yes, we've recieved the official leaflet from both our school and pre-school about the scheme. It seems very full and explains everything in detail.

I think it's a lovely thing to do, it helps the children think about other children who are less well off than they are, especially at Christmas - which is obviously a Christian celebration.

If it bothers you - don't participate. I would also suggest there are many many more worthwhile causes that you could direct your energy towards if you want a proper cause to contribute to. (We need someone to sort some stuff for our hospice sale if you're free.....)

WhistlingPot Mon 13-Oct-14 22:13:59

Thanks for this exexpat.

DS came home, having had a "talk" at school from OCC, with a leaflet (not the full parent/teacher guide, but the "how to pack your shoebox" with a four line paragraph of "where appropriate" etc).

On the surface it would seem a very worthwhile cause, which you would expect from a church school. However, nowhere, other than the research I have done myself, does it make reference to the views of it's president, and how far these are reflected in any teachings, which is my concern and why DS won't be participating. I have outlined my concerns and asked school to consider a different cause in the future that we would be happy to join in.

My impression this year is that OCC is on a PR mission, but somehow still avoiding making the detail obvious.

wantacatplease Tue 14-Oct-14 07:06:09

My question is if they believe in what they are doing whole-heartedly (converting non-Christian children), why be so sneaky about it in the first place?

AgaPanthers Wed 15-Oct-14 12:51:35

As I understand it in the US they are not sneaky, because it goes down well there. In this country not so much.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Wed 15-Oct-14 12:56:49

The leaflet we have had home does say;

"Where appropriate, with each shoebox, our church partners may offer a little booklet of bible stories. They may also invite children receiving shoeboxes to join a discipleship course called The Greatest Journey. This is a "no strings attached" programme and participation is with the consent of the parent or guardian."

I don't know if the leaflet has always included this information as this is the first year we've received it, but it seems pretty clear to me.

OwlCapone Wed 15-Oct-14 13:01:14

I want to direct our school towards the back pack project run by Mary's Meals instead. I think this is far more appropriate for a school that has many different religions.

I dislike the religious aspect of OCC.

I am too much of a coward to broach the subject though.

FiveHoursSleep Wed 15-Oct-14 13:23:14

This was doing the rounds of FB a couple of days ago.
I thought it explained a lot!

exexpat Wed 15-Oct-14 13:53:48

Pourquoi - that sounds like a rather abbreviated version of the leaflet I linked to above. The section on The Greatest Journey in that is this:

"The Greatest Journey is a voluntary follow-up course for children who have received shoeboxes through Operation Christmas Child, enabling them to interact with the Gospel, through Bible stories
and Bible teaching.
The mission of The Greatest Journey is to help local churches overseas reach children with the Gospel, to establish them in their faith in Jesus Christ and to equip them to pray for and share the Gospel with their family and friends.
The Greatest Journey is a series of 12 lessons containing exciting Biblical content exclusively delivered and presented by trained volunteers from local churches, with training and all resources needed provided free of charge, at their request. Through this programme local believers are being empowered and enabled to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with children in their own communities.
Children completing The Greatest Journey are awarded a personal certificate and many will receive a special copy of the New Testament in their own language, which also contains Old Testament stories, colourful illustrations, memory verses and other learning aids. In many countries around the world, Bibles are rare, or hard to obtain; these Bibles become instant treasures, not only to the children receiving them but to their friends and families as well.
Not all children receiving shoeboxes will want, or be able to participate in The Greatest Journey, either by reason of their own free will, because there are no trained teachers in their locality to take the classes, or because resources for the children are not yet available - either in their local language or in sufficient quantities."

WhistlingPot Wed 15-Oct-14 14:19:43

Yes it's the same short paragraph that's in the "What to put in your shoebox" leaflet.

AgaPanthers Wed 15-Oct-14 15:26:36

IME, their shoeboxes are a nice school activity and well-run, better in that respect than alternative programmes.

OwlCapone Wed 15-Oct-14 15:29:09

Less of a "nice school activity" when the non Christian pupils find out that the organisation does not respect their religion. I don't want my children having anything to do with it.

OwlCapone Wed 15-Oct-14 15:30:24

From fivehourssleep's link

He sat and listened as I finished by explaining that our God is real and their gods are only small figures on the shelf.

Our son helped remind us that we are here to serve without pretension, to do a good job, and to show the love of our God to those whose gods don’t love them.

JadedAngel Wed 15-Oct-14 20:21:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exexpat Wed 15-Oct-14 21:19:21

There is absolutely no connection between Samaritan's Purse and The Samaritans, but a very common misconception. I would ask your head to send out a correction and make it very clear that Samaritan's Purse is a US-based evangelical Christian organisation.

JadedAngel Wed 15-Oct-14 21:25:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exexpat Wed 15-Oct-14 21:26:21

(and maybe suggest the head gets the teacher and parent leaflet from here and distributes it to the parents by email so they can see what it is really all about)

exexpat Wed 15-Oct-14 21:27:31

x-post - even if it is a faith school, it is unlikely that the school and the majority of parents share the beliefs of Franklin Graham and Samaritan's Purse.

JadedAngel Wed 15-Oct-14 21:30:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheRealMaryMillington Wed 15-Oct-14 21:34:00

Our school doesn't do it any more, thankfully after me and some other parents pointed out the problem. It's not a church school, with a large mixture of different faiths, so it would be totally inappropriate.

We are collecting for the local food bank.

exexpat Wed 15-Oct-14 21:34:10

They might also be interested in some of the videos which show the main motivation behind shoebox distributions: Operation Christmas Child touches Nepal and India: From the Box to the Bible.

JadedAngel Wed 15-Oct-14 21:38:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gamerchick Wed 15-Oct-14 21:42:14

We didn't get no info. Just that they had done an assembly stressing how important it is to think of others less fortunate and send toys and money if donating instead in by X date so the school can knock up the shoe boxes.

PartyConfused Wed 15-Oct-14 21:55:28

Oooooo. Very angry here now reading this. Our sch (I'm a teacher not parent) is secondary. The pupils have been given an assembly encouraging them to do the shoeboxes. The thing that wound me up at the time us that the whole Christian aspect was completely ignored. In fact, the teacher leading it went on about Eid (happened a few days before) as school has a very large muslim majority.
The kids have been ebcouraged by offering house points for every box and making it into a house competition! hmm

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