Advanced search

Shoebox time

(31 Posts)
Lukethe3 Sat 10-Nov-12 19:42:15

Ds has just started reception so I am a newbie and had never heard of shoebox appeals until I received a letter from school yesterday.
I read the Operation Christmas Child pamphlet and didn't have a great feeling about it so I then did a search on Mumsnet. I'm very glad I did as I don't think I would be comfortable giving a gift via this organisation.
Can somebody recommend another charity to support with a shoebox?

ludixon Sun 11-Nov-12 20:23:48

What didn't you like about Operation Christmas Child?

mrz Sun 11-Nov-12 20:34:13

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 20:43:30

There are some ideas for alternatives here. In general, shoebox schemes aren't seen as a very effective form of charity, but if your child feels they are missing out, then some local Rotary clubs do them.

The Mary's Meals backpack project is a much better thought-through than OCC but still hands-on project for schools.

Or for specifically Christmas things, keep an eye open locally for toy collections for disadvantaged/hospitalised children, homeless families, women's refuges etc.

If you scour this years' OCC threads on MN, you'll find a few other alternatives mentioned in between all the arguments...

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 20:44:04

I believe, FWIW, that in response to e.g., the 2003 article above, they have made changes to remove the proselytising.

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 20:44:55

My experience is that the OCC shoeboxes are better organised, 'nicer' for DCs to fill than the other alternatives.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 20:52:19

Joanbyers - if you look at the Samaritan's Purse website, it is clear that proselytising is still the central purpose of Operation Christmas Child. Receiving a shoebox is the first step in The Greatest Journey (towards becoming a born-again Christian).

The slogan "every shoebox a gospel opportunity" still seems to be going strong.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 20:56:00

This leaflet aimed at promoting Operation Christmas Child to UK churches makes the missionary purpose much clearer than the leaflets handed out in schools seem to do.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 21:05:41

Quite interesting to compare the leaflet aimed at churches, which is clear about the missionary intent, with this leaflet aimed at schools which only says that "where appropriate" OCC's local partners will "make available" a "great little booklet of bible stories". Strangely, no mention of 12-step bible programmes, church building etc. Rather a dishonest approach, don't you think?

Panzee Sun 11-Nov-12 21:08:11

Absolutely exexpat, which is why, even as a Christian, I will have nothing to do with OCC.

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 21:14:29

exexpat, I haven't looked into this for a while, but my understanding is that the UK is distinct from the US operation, so a statement on the US (general) website will not necessarily be applicable for boxes collected in the UK.

I think is probably the most relevant statement of principles:

Obviously in the US they are more likely to be working with evangelicals who feel that converting people is important.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Sun 11-Nov-12 21:16:57

The CofE school my daughter is likely to go to use this. It really unnerves me (even as a backslidden Christian) but I'm not sure how I'd complain as they'd argue as a Christian school they'd support it?

mrz Sun 11-Nov-12 21:26:44

Operation Christmas Child started off as a British charity but was taken over by the US based Samaritan's Purse in 1995 and now comes under Samaritan's Purse International.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 21:30:45

Joan, if you look at the two leaflets I linked to above, which both come from the British website, you will see that OCC's UK arm is (according to the church leaflet at least) very much a missionary organisation, and the British shoeboxes are used to entice children into the same Greatest Journey programme as the US arm. But the school leaflet singularly fails to make this clear.

It is this failure to explain to children and parents that the prime purpose of the shoeboxes is as an evangelical tool which is the most fundamental objection most people on MN have to OCC and its presence in primary schools where the overwhelming majority of families are not practising Christians (and may be Muslim, atheist, Hindu, Jewish etc) let alone US-style born-again Christians.

After that you get into objections to shoeboxes as a form of aid which is wasteful, poorly targetted and culturally insensitive, then objections to Samaritan's Purse in general and Franklin Graham's public pronouncements on Muslims, gays etc in particular, and so on and so on (see every other thread on MN on the subject of OCC shoeboxes for pages and pages of variations on the theme...).

hazeyjane Sun 11-Nov-12 21:34:22

I have just written an email to my dds school, about 2 charities that they might like to consider supporting instead of OCC (we are supposed to hand in our shoeboxes tomorrow). They are

mary's meals backpack project


Link Romania Shoebox Appeal

They are both christian charities (the school is c of e), but they don't have the evangilising agenda of The Samaritan's Purse. I particularly like the backpack project.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 21:38:30

Canihaveapetgiraffeplease - someone on one of the other threads recently posted a link to this critical analysis of Operation Christmas Child by a group of Canadian churches. You might find its arguments useful if your DCs' school push the shoebox thing.

Just because Samaritan's Purse are Christian does not mean that their methods should automatically be approved and supported by other Christians. I think the majority of mainstream Christians in this country would not particularly want to be linked to Franklin Graham, for a start.

NormanTheForeman Sun 11-Nov-12 21:41:23

The school we are associated with (primary) used to do Operation Christmas Child, but after several queries from parents, now does the Link Romania one.

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 21:44:19

I don't see any contradiction to be honest.

The church leaflets says 'many' children receiving shoeboxes receive a copy of The Greatest Gift alongside their shoeboxes.

The schools website, meanwhile says that churches distributing the boxes may distribute The Greatest Gift alongside the boxes.

Same thing, different perspective/focus.

Obviously if you are unhappy with any kind of Christian religious association, then it won't suit, but I think there's something of a caricature of them as Crusaders on the one hand, and perhaps some sort of image that some people might have of a sort of Coca-Cola-style Santa handing out gifts to poor children in the third world, just for the taste of it, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 21:53:19

And of course there are more effective forms of charity, but giving is not entirely selfless and I think that the production of these boxes is satisfying for the children involved in this country, more so than some of the similar projects recommended above (the materials are quite attractive), and from that perspective, it's an effective in its primary goal, which is a festive activity for primary-aged British schoolchildren.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 22:07:03

The cover of the church leaflet says "Showing God's love, sharing God's word".

Other quotes from the church leaflet: "A shoebox can be a powerful tool for mission"; "Shoeboxes are gospel opportunities"; "Shoeboxes are church builders"; "Over 388,000 children have completed the (Greatest Journey) programme with over 260,000 children giving their lives to Christ" - etc etc.

Don't you think that gives a rather different impression to the leaflet for schools - cover slogan: "Shoeboxes bursting with joy - a fantastic activity for all schools" (no mention of God, gospel etc) - which inside mentions once, in passing, a "booklet of bible stories". There's lots of stuff about boxes of goodies, lots about how it fits in with the national curriculum, but nothing about the follow-up programme, children giving themselves to Christ and so on.

I think just describing it as a 'different perspective' is being a bit disingenuous.

If you gave the schools leaflet to a non-religious or even Muslim parent they might think it sounded like a nice, warm-hearted thing to do for children overseas. Christian-inspired, but acceptable to all.

If you showed the church leaflet to the same people, I think you would get some very serious objections.

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 22:26:25

I think it is essentially correct - the shoeboxes are no more evangelical than say Michael Gove's bibles, the thing that is evangelical is the churches handing them out.

I don't think it's unique that a church will do evangelical stuff alongside more charitable activities.

Obviously the links between the shoeboxes and evangelical programmes might be stronger than some people would like, as I said the truth is somewhere in the middle.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 22:34:50

But can't you see why people object to the way the evangelical aims are played down in schools, so that people with no religious beliefs (or conflicting religious beliefs) are duped into effectively providing the tools for children overseas to be converted to a religion most of the donors do not believe in?

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 22:41:17

The evangelism is additional to the shoeboxes. The shoeboxes won't convert people by themselves. Parents making these shoeboxes are not funding the evangelism.

ravenAK Sun 11-Nov-12 22:43:21

Yes, they are - where do you imagine the £2.50 goes?

Liking 'it's an effective in its primary goal, which is a festive activity for primary-aged British schoolchildren'.

At least this is honest re: who actually benefits.

exexpat Sun 11-Nov-12 23:21:18

Joan, your arguments are becoming even more disingenuous.

"The shoeboxes won't convert people by themselves".

Well, no, but as the OCC leaflet says "a shoebox can be a powerful tool for mission". And the £2.50 compulsory donation to go with each box presumably goes towards printing bible story books as well as distribution costs.

Parents who give shoeboxes are funding the evangelism and providing the tools for it.

Don't you think they ought to be told that that is what they are doing, so they have the chance to make an informed decision about what they are supporting?

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: