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Operation Christmas Child

(38 Posts)
moniker Tue 05-Oct-04 12:52:14

I'm trying to get this organised a bit at work as I've done it before but have had a couple of comments about the religious side of it that have got me thinking. I'm not strongly religious myself but I do like the idea of sending the Christmas boxes. What do you guys think? I'd be really interested to know and here's the link:

I'll do a proper link when I can read the (instructions!)

moniker Tue 05-Oct-04 12:54:07

Operation christmas child

moniker Tue 05-Oct-04 12:56:17

and I put this in education as lots of schools do it - and I think my DSs have learnt from making the boxes themselves. I'll stop now!!

soapbox Tue 05-Oct-04 13:03:08

My children's school does it - and we enjoy making up the boxes together and writing little notes to go inside!

JoolsToo Tue 05-Oct-04 13:10:53

I think its brilliant and I'll be doing it again this year - I think its great that schools are involved but I really enjoy putting the box together as well!

poppyseed Tue 05-Oct-04 13:12:25

DD's school don't do operation Christmas child - there apparently has been some adverse publicity regarding the scheme - exactly what I don't know. They do however do the rotary club shoebox scheme that has a good website here if you fancy a peep

poppyseed Tue 05-Oct-04 13:14:13

Jools - I do a family one and DD does a girlie one and we both get quite excited . Do you put your photo and address in? Don't know why but I feel a bit reluctant to do it......

JoolsToo Tue 05-Oct-04 13:15:53

No - no photo! it'd spoil the kids christmas!. I'd really like to see these boxes opened though - a bet thats special - I'm surprised some TV company hasn't had the idea!

miranda2 Tue 05-Oct-04 13:18:05

OUr church always did it, but we were a bit concerned about the publicity earlier this year. We wrote to them asking about it, and they said they never include christian material in the boxes themselves. IF it is appropriate (ie, not a muslim country) then they have literature (childrens bibles etc) available for the children to take as well if they want to, but totally separate from the boxes. we were happy with this and decided to continue doing the scheme.
I do a few each year - shall get ds to help me this year. I always put in a card with our address, and a couple of years ago I got a letter back from a girl in Bosnia with a photo of her family at Christmas with their boxes! It was lovely and nice to really know that they do get to the intended recipients.

GeorginaA Tue 05-Oct-04 13:21:04

I'd really like to do something like this with ds1 this year, but does anyone know of a similar scheme which isn't linked to church? I like the idea of the poor getting a Christmas box but not one that's tied to them receiving christian literature in conjunction. Is there a secular alternative?

GeorginaA Tue 05-Oct-04 13:21:59

ah... I've crossposted with about 5 people

poppyseed Tue 05-Oct-04 13:28:04

Joolstoo -if you have a look at the link I did you can see some of the kids opening their pressies! Only stills though I'm afraid...

kizzie Tue 05-Oct-04 13:31:53

We always do this too. My friend and I also questioned the point about the children getting a religious leaflet with the presents but in the end we decided that we'd rather they got the toys than not. we also stick something like a hat and gloves or warm socks in as well as toys.

Its really popular now -people fighting each other for shoe boxes in Clarkes. our local branch keeps a pile of them specifically for it.

fruitful Tue 05-Oct-04 13:52:41

We do these through our church. We've been steadily collecting stuff all year - as in, "this month buy hats and gloves" or "this month its small toys". We're going to have a massive shoebox wrapping session soon, the kids love it.

We also have links with a church in Croatia that is one of the receiving/distributing organisations so we hear about that end too. They rent the local (disused) cinema and have a big children's party at which they distribute the shoeboxes. All the local Muslim kids come too as well as the Christians; I think the church has had quite a lot of success at getting both halves of the community together and this is one of the events where they do it.

About the leaflets - it does say they only put them in "where culturally appropriate" and the locals agree - so I guess if the local distributing group is a mosque then they're not going to include the leaflet. And, lets face it, the kids don't actually have to read it, do they. Too busy with their new toys.

Although, personally, I think the leaflet is the best bit . Giving someone the chance to make friends with the person who created the universe has got to be the best present ever.

moniker Tue 05-Oct-04 13:57:48

Thanks everyone for your comments so far - I was interested in what you said Miranda as I hadn't really understood how by 'culturally approriate' was interpretted. I will be able to explain that to anyone else that asks now. I agree with everyone else too - just knowing that someone's Christmas has been made a little bit brighter is great and makes it worth doing.

Hulababy Tue 05-Oct-04 17:46:24

We have done these for the past few years - forst through the school I taught at and now through DD's nursery. This year my 2.5yo DD is helping me and she has chosen to make a present for another little girl who is 2 apparantly. She has been thinking of somethings to put on her box.

BUT a question???

Where can I get a shoe box. In the past it's been fine as my old school had loads of spares. Not gone one this year and no one in the family have Do you think a shoe shop would have any spares for me?

hana Tue 05-Oct-04 17:50:41

hula, last year I asked around at different shoe shops on our highstreet - I know I never take the shoe box home when dd gets new shoes (or me!) I'm sure they're happy to get rid of them

BadHair Tue 05-Oct-04 17:52:39

Hulababy, yes, ask in a shoeshop. People like me always leave the boxes behind so they're bound to have plenty!

steppemum Wed 06-Oct-04 16:31:03

Hi everyone, I thought you might like to hear a bit about the receiving end of this. I live in Kazakhstan in Central Asia, and every year loads of Operation Christmas Child boxes are distributed here. They do not include any Christian material, just the toys etc that the senders put in. They usually have a note inside with the name of the sender on it. The boxes are however always distributed through the local churches. Our local church has a special service, invites hundreds of kids and gives them the boxes, plus an explanation of who Jesus is (a bit like a sunday school class) The parents know that it is the church giving out the boxes, but are still happy for the kids to get them as it means they get the presents. Quite a few are also taken by our church to local orphanages, children's homes etc and again given out with a Christian message.

I mention this because it is not always understood that there is a religious context in which they are given out. Having said that, the church youth group arrives at the orphanage, does a morning of fun games etc (including the Christian message) and then gives each child a present. No-one else, and I really mean NO-ONE else in this country ever goes into these places and takes a bit of time to do something fun with the kids, so there are pros and cons.

One thing that I would like to mention is that these seem to be advertised as Christmas presents for kids who otherwise wouldn't get Christmas presents, and that does get up my nose. Giving Christmas presents is a very English - American thing. (OK and a few other countries) In Holland, Christians do not give Christmas presents. Orthodox Christians do not give Christmas presents (at least not as far as I know.) In Kazakhstan, Christians do not give Christmas presents, they give presents at New Year, totally unconnected to Christmas. Of course it is lovely for kids who need it to get some toys etc, but don't think of it as a Christmas present for a child who wouldn't get one, that concept is not familiar here.

I am embarrased to admitt that we were given one of the boxes last Christmas for our ds. (All the families in the church got one, so we did too.) We gave away most of the contents, but I have to say, there were 4 McDonalds give away toys in it, one of which was opened and broken. I wasn't very impressed by that, I know they are free, but they are pure rubbish. (I hasten to add that it wasn't a box sent out from England!)

I hope that has given you some information from the other end, not sure if it makes you more or less likely to want to do it! If you do participate, can I really encourage you not to put in toys that require the English instructions to make them work (like some fabric paints that one child got, totally wasted because they didn't know what they were, a packet of ordinary crayons would have been better.)

steppemum Wed 06-Oct-04 16:35:54

Just to add, loads of last years came in Tupperware boxes instead of shoe boxes - great idea!

Whoever said they put in gloves and hats, also great idea, as are socks, school stuff (pencils pens, coloured crayons, colouring in book, pencil case etc) Footballs would also be a prize amonsgt the boys here (if you can fit a small one in )

Also Kazakhstan is a predominantly muslim country in case you were wondering, so lots of the kids who come to the church party are muslim kids (I stress they come with parental permission)

Uwila Wed 06-Oct-04 16:41:00

Wow, I think that's relly cool. Are you English? What brought you to Kazakhstan? Just curious. Sounds very interesting.

steppemum Wed 06-Oct-04 16:46:40

Hi Uwila, I am british, dh is Dutch and we work in Kazakhstan for a local NGO as charity volunteers. (hence the nickname, steppe as in wide open rolling grasslands.....!)

Jollymum Wed 06-Oct-04 16:56:21

I'm confused now. I'm a Christian and I give Xmas presents. Am I missing something here and being really thick. Do you mean orthodox jewish people? I thought and I know all my friends do, that these boxes were for children who wouldn't have anything otherwise. My kids have done loads from school and I'm really shocked at this information. I didn't really mind about the religious info, it wouldn't matter to me as long as those kids got a pressie. Can someone clear this up for me, 'cos I will certainly be passing on the message to school and not participating if it's not for real. Thanks for the info Sreppemum, really useful.

SoftFroggie Wed 06-Oct-04 19:32:13

I expect Steppemum will be back to explain but I think she means
- children in many of the receiving countries dont generally get *Christmas* presents, so the kids who get the boxes are not 'missing out', as others aren't getting anything at *Christmas* either. However, she did say it was "lovely for children who need it to get some toys etc" - and that lots go into orphanages where the kids generally don't get any time /attention / gifts of any kind.

- "Orthodox Christians" as in Russian Orthodox / Eastern Orthodox etc with a capital O. Not as in standard / conventional / typical Christians as we are in the UK etc.


steppemum Thu 07-Oct-04 15:59:33

I think Jollymum has explained it, sorry to confuse. Orthodox Christians are indeed Russian Orthodox (or Greek, eastern Etc) they celebrate Christmas on 6th January, and Russian orthodox don't give presents as part of their Christmas celebrations.

What I was trying to say is that we think some poor kid in XX country is missing out on getting a Christmas present. But if you live in that country NOBODY gets or receives Christmas presents because it is not part of the culture. For example here in Kazakhstan no Christians (and I'm pretty sure that includes the catholics and the Russian Baptists and German Lutherans, who are all here, but I may be wrong) anyway NO Christians give christmas presents. It isn't part of their culture. They celebrate christmas with a church service, family meal, party or whatever, but not gifts. For that matter, my dh is dutch and the whole question of christams presents has been a problem for him. In Holland peoples don't give presents at christmas (there is a kids holiday on 5th December where the kids all get presents, but it is NOT to do with christmas - as he tells me very often!) In fact he doesn't like presents at christmas because the distract from what for him is a religious holiday, and turn it into a materialistic one - but that is a whole other thread!)

So we are encouraged to give the shoeboxes so that some poor kid doesn't miss out on christmas, but no-one else is getting or receiving presents at that time, so nobody is missing out on anything.

That sounds as clear as mud, and I'm not sure that if I re-write it I can do any better!!

BUT the gifts are all given out to people who need them, here it is usually at new year, because that is when gifts are exchanged. The gifts are given out to children who benefit from the gifts, like the kids in the orphanage, or families where mum and dad are both out of work and struggling, or kids being brought up by Granny on a tiny pension etc, so I'm not saying that the gifts aren't given to a good cause, or that children who need them don't benefit, I just don't like the way they are advertised.

I have very mixed feelings about the whole shoebox thing. As you might have noticed. I am not sure about the publicity end in the UK and USA, but on the other hand nice gifts are collected for needy kids. It is a hard one, and I have no answers!!

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