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Operation Christmas Child - Arguments against that might convince a faith/catholic school?

(28 Posts)
brilliotic Thu 02-Nov-17 14:18:23

After having done a different shoebox scheme last year, our school is now doing OCC. Arrgh. It's a catholic school. I'm not catholic.

Am looking for the most convincing arguments /info resources against participating in OCC from a christian/catholic perspective, so not humanist arguments.

Help please? Unfortunately I don't have much time right now to do lots of research but feel strongly that I'd like to let the head know why I think they should reconsider/why we won't be contributing. And it can't be 'because I'm not catholic'.

horsemadmom Thu 02-Nov-17 15:09:44

Proselytising is vile.

cingolimama Thu 02-Nov-17 15:28:29

OP, I had exactly the same situation last year at my DD's CE school. To the school's credit, they listened to my point of view, and stopped supporting OCC/Samaritan's Purse. Here's what I wrote - feel free to use any bits you like and good luck!

"I understand that the school is intending to support Operation Christmas Child. I'm glad that the children are being encouraged to think of others less fortunate than themselves. However, I have profound reservations about the charity, and the appropriateness of the school's supporting this particular appeal.

I am not sure if you are aware of the controversy surrounding Samaritan’s Purse. The founder of OCC, Franklin Graham is blatantly intolerant and insulting of other religions, demonstrated by such quotes describing Islam as “a very wicked and evil religion”. On Hinduism he says “…we travelled to the subcontinent of India, with its hundreds of millions of people locked in the darkness of Hinduism… These people were bound by Satan’s power”. I also cannot ignore his homophobic beliefs, demonstrated by his support of Vladimir Putin's draconian anti-gay laws and his racist belief that "black men get shot because they don't obey law enforcement officers".

While the vast majority of those involved in Operation Christmas Child are likely acting with good intentions, the scheme is highly problematic ­- not only on account of the organisation's aforementioned bigotry - but because of the way it seeks to use poverty and humanitarian tragedies to evangelise to children. The charity Save The Children has questioned its effectiveness and expressed concerns about the use of evangelism in the context of people in need. Also, filling shoeboxes with plastic trinkets to send overseas is an horrendously inefficient way to give to charity. Reputable charities usually seek to convert physical donations into money, because money can be used far more effectively. Real charity should be unconditional with no strings attached, yet OCC state that those who do not accept their message are damned to eternal punishment.

I feel strongly that this charity has extreme values which are diametrically opposed to my own Christian values. I do think it is a fantastic idea for the children to be involved in giving and thinking of others, particularly at Christmas time, but there are many alternatives to Samaritan’s Purse."

Here are some links to articles that might be of interest:^

Pallando Thu 02-Nov-17 22:02:30

OP - sent a letter in about this over half term. Happy to PM you the text if you want?

Jakeyboy1 Thu 02-Nov-17 22:58:48

I remember seeing this controversy last year, have just realised or school is doing it. Hmmm...

Piratesandpants Thu 02-Nov-17 23:02:26

Suggest another scheme. Ours does the Rotary one which states it is not affiliated to any religion or politics.

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Nov-17 23:06:58

Mary’s Meals is another good alternative, as is Women’s Aid.

I persuaded our school to ditch OCC a couple of years ago. I told our HT about the Hinduism video and she was horrified. They came in again this year but got short shrift.

brilliotic Thu 02-Nov-17 23:13:28

cingolimama, thanks that is great, very helpful.
Pallando, yes please!

Piratesandpants, they did another scheme last year! For some reason they switched to OCC. I researched last year's thing and maybe I was being naive but though it was a christian charity, and a shoebox thing, it appeared a lot less err... controversial than OCC.

Also last year parents were asked to find, fill, and wrap shoe boxes. This year we are strongly being encouraged to buy OCC / Samaritan's Purse branded boxes at £1 a piece. So we are effectively being asked to donate financially directly to them in addition to supporting/enabling their work by providing the gifts that they then get to distribute in the manner they choose.

Jakeyboy1 Thu 02-Nov-17 23:16:04

Our nursery used to do boxes for barnardos can't find anything about it online tho

brilliotic Thu 02-Nov-17 23:18:53

Alas I don't think there is any chance at all I can get them to stop this year's action, as the school has already sold numerous boxes to parents. The same day as the e-mail went out. I can only hope for next year (and explain why we won't be participating).
And then have some conversations with my child - the school has already been mounting the pressure with an officially stated aim of providing a number of boxes that is higher than the number of children at the school...

sunshinemeg Thu 02-Nov-17 23:28:07

My letter to our nursery regarding same issue:

I was both pleased and upset to see notices and letters about Operation Christmas Child this week at nursery. Whilst I fully support the need for charities to spread aid to those less fortunate, especially at Christmas time, I am very disappointed to see that the charity chosen is The Samaritans Purse - Operation Christmas Child.

I wonder if you are fully aware of the background of this organisation? To summarise I have taken some points from various articles listed below:

1. Shoe boxes are collected prior to sending abroad and have literature added designed to promote the Christian message and convert children. A strong message that Samaritans Purse push strongly. It is kept quiet in the U.K. as many of the shoe boxes will go to children of different religions.

2. The church behind the organisation is controlled by Franklin Graham. It is strongly homophobic, zenophobic, transphobic, racist and sexist.

3. Many items in the boxes are not culturally suitable for those that receive them, meaning money well meant is misdirected and wasted.

4. Disruption to the local economy - many small vendors will not earn enough money during December as a result of foreign toys arriving.

5. Teaching unions are suggesting that supporting the charity puts schools and nurserys in a difficult position.

6. There have even been instances where boxes were only handed out when children declared their believe in Christianity. When boxes are going to heavily Muslim, Hindu or even Jewish countries this seems wrong, and not what the focus of the exercise should be.

May I suggest that it would be good to offer parents a choice, and if you still want to follow the shoe box theme then supporting Rotary Club may be a better option?



TragicallyUnbeyachted Thu 02-Nov-17 23:39:54

You could also give them this story (brief summary: shoeboxes being distributed to children of well-off families at a private nursery in a country where the things in the boxes weren't even in short supply to begin with).

brilliotic Fri 03-Nov-17 00:13:21

Thanks also, sunshinemeg that is a great letter. I like the idea of suggesting to the school that they might offer parents a choice.

TragicallyUnbeyachted, I think I might include the link I saw somewhere that charitable organisations view shoe box efforts of this kind as terribly inefficient from a charity point of view (as your link also demonstrates). So yes, do charity, but do it right! It's not 'the intention' that matters, it is the effect. All good and well to teach children about giving to those less fortunate, but not whilst teaching them wastefulness at the same time. Yes, they might find this kind of charity 'fun' but should charity really be about the giver?

NoSquirrels Fri 03-Nov-17 00:25:02

We got school to drop OCC/Samaritan's Purse even after shoeboxes had been donated- we supported a different scheme with them, and school issued an explanation why. I was impressed, tbh, that they acted instead of shrugging their shoulders and saying "too late".

Pallando Fri 03-Nov-17 07:30:24

brilliotic Message sent. Good luck!

cingolimama Fri 03-Nov-17 08:47:51

I find this terribly depressing that schools are still supporting this! Please let us know the school's response, and best of luck.

Inmyownlittlecorner Fri 03-Nov-17 09:25:01

I've just discovered this morning that our school, also Catholic, is doing this. I've spoken to the deputy head to say that my children won't be taking part & she seemed slightly put out. I'm head of the PTA so I also refuse to have any part of it or endorse it.
How did you all talk to your children about the fact that they won't be taking part? Mine are 4 & 8.

Pallando Fri 03-Nov-17 10:29:03

We talked about the costs of sending things over, and carbon emissions etc. If you visit the Unicef website you can "buy" skipping ropes and footballs (amongst other things).

Someone mentioned Mary's meals - they are having all their donations matched at the moment!

Scaredycat3000 Fri 03-Nov-17 13:31:23

I wrote a long e-mail to school 18 months ago. The HT was horrified, dropped the boxes and thanked me. This year two dc, two schools, new original HT, and the shoeboxes are in both schools. I saw red and fired off e-mails to both HT's. I used a link to the OCC US site where they have a different evangelical message to the UK site and the Guardian article. One school did a lot of their own research, very proactive, used the phrase supporting far right. These are both faith schools. Both HT's have contacted me and informed me there will be no more shoeboxes after these. Interestingly enough the local Diocese recommend the Humanist shoebox alternative list. Good luck!

Scaredycat3000 Fri 03-Nov-17 13:34:13

I told my dc similar to Pall. Also that you don't give presents to receive, or with strings attached.

NoSquirrels Fri 03-Nov-17 14:29:14

How did you all talk to your children about the fact that they won't be taking part? Mine are 4 & 8.

I'm Christian and my DH is atheist. So my DC already have had lots of talk about tolerance of ideas/differences in belief/non-belief etc.

I explained about the charity sometimes only giving shoe boxes to children if they were asked to believe something different, about the beliefs of the man who runs that church in America, and that we would choose our own charity gifts this year to donate instead.

roguedad Fri 03-Nov-17 20:38:41

Some great ideas here. Apologies if this link has been posted, but

has some useful points on it as well.

Maldives2006 Mon 06-Nov-17 14:18:47

If it’s a catholic school would there be another catholic charity that would be a suitable alternative maybe caritas. My apologies I’m not catholic so haven’t researched this in any detail.

nocampinghere Mon 06-Nov-17 19:00:18

our Catholic primary supports Mary's Meals heavily.

TwentyChews Mon 06-Nov-17 20:02:28

I did a letter last year - yell if you need more stuff and I'll PM over.

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