Operation Christmas Child & WCA
Since 2006 the Wake Christian student council has made an annual visit to the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) processing center in Boone, NC. There they volunteer their time to aid in handling and packing thousands of shoeboxes containing gifts, school supplies, and hygiene items. During OCC’s “National Collection Week” millions of these shoeboxes are sent in from schools, churches, families, and individuals all across the southeast and are then delivered both locally and internationally to help children in need. From boys and girls living in orphanages to families surviving in war-torn nations, these shoeboxes reach children in many different walks of life. Without the gift of a shoebox, most of these children would go without a gift this Christmas. The weight of this truth is something that has always motivated Wake Christian’s students to give abundantly and this year our school saw first hand the importance of why.
It’s not typical that one sees the direct benefits of their giving, but the Wake Christian family experienced the impact of this ministry on a personal level with the stories of two of our very own. Two of our high school students new to Wake this year, senior Ana and sophomore Ermiyas, were recipients of shoeboxes when they were younger. Both Ana and Ermiyas lived in orphanages when they were growing up before being adopted and moving to the United States. When the gift drive began, they were both moved to come forward and tell us their stories about how their lives were touched by the gifts that they received through OCC.
Both Ana and Ermiyas expressed how meaningful the gifts they received were to both of them. “Life in the orphanage was difficult,” said Ana, “and getting a shoebox was special.” Filled with toys and items that they may have not received otherwise, these gifts were more than just kind gestures, but showed that someone was thinking about them. “Those receiving their gifts need to know that someone cares for them,” Ermiyas told us, “but even more so that they are being prayed for and are loved by those giving the gift.”
The importance of this was made all that more true in hearing Ana’s story of a letter that was written to her in a shoebox she received. At the time she did not know English, so she needed her teacher to translate the letter for her, but Ana reflected vividly on what they had written her. “They told me they loved me and that they were praying for me,”Ana said. She explained how touched she was by the care and thoughtfulness of the gift giver and how the toys she received were nice, but that all she really wanted was to know that someone loved and cared for her. Both Ana and Ermiyas reminisced about how when they were living in orphanages all they wanted was a family and now by God’s grace they have been given such a blessing.
Though it is unlikely we will ever be given the opportunity to meet the individuals who receive our shoeboxes, Ana and Ermiyas are beautiful examples of why we do give. There is a chance that the gift you give is the only time a child is ever told that someone cares for them, loves them, and is praying for them. Our middle and high school students brought in over 140 boxes, prayerfully considering the children who would be receiving them. As we find in the cases of Ana and Ermiyas, the power of prayer is mighty and the actions of a few can be used by the Lord to make a difference in the lives of others. As we reflect on the meaning of this very special time of year, let us thank God for all he has given us and serve those who are in need through our time, talents, and an abundance of prayer.