It’s almost time to get out the lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. That’s right, the holidays are right around the corner. What better time of year to help out someone in need? This year we took part in Operation Christmas Child, a charity that helps make Christmas a little brighter for kids in developing countries. As you can see from the pictures, even our cat Himmery got involved!
I really enjoyed taking the time with Brad to give back in some small way. Sometimes we can lose sight of how privileged we are, so it was nice to take the time to refocus. I liked the charity we chose, particularly because we got to shop for Christmas presents for a little boy, which means we had an excuse to raid the toy aisles! I think it’s the first time Brad actually volunteered to go shopping.
For our charity, Operation Christmas Child, the idea is to shop for Christmas presents for a boy or girl from one of the three age groups (2-4, 5-9, 10-14). You fill a shoebox with various items such as school supplies, hygiene items, and of course toys. You put $7 in an envelope to cover shipping costs along with a little note if you wish. Then, you take it to one of the drop off locations in your area (which can be found on their website) where it is processed and shipped to a developing nation. Countries in the past have included Bosnia, Mozambique, Armenia, and Liberia.
I had so much fun combing the toy aisles, looking for toys I thought our unknown boy might enjoy. It was funny how we both thought we knew the boy we were shopping for and would get into little arguments over what he would enjoy more. The fun for me in this was definitely in the process and not the packing of the shoebox. As I suspected while we were shopping, we bought too much. However, Brad and his packing skills managed to cram 4 t-shirts, 6 pairs of socks, a sticker book, 4 toothbrushes, a sketchpad, markers, coloured pencils, bandaids, lego, 3 hot wheels cars and a ball into a tiny shoebox.
Whether or not you support the charity we did is irrelevant. The point is to pick a charity that is near and dear to you and find a way to give back to it, either by participating in one of their events (many charities have Christmas events) or holding an event of your own to raise funds for it. Have a game night with friends and charge a seat fee or hold a silent auction. For more ideas like this visit: celebrations.com/charity-events
We made a choice to change our focus for Christmas this year. Instead of getting caught up in spending too much money on people who already have too much stuff (although we still love them) and on ourselves, we are going to focus on what really matters. Don’t worry, we’re not turning into Scrooges, we’re still giving gifts to people we love, but spending time with our family and friends and giving to those in need are more important than gifts.
I had heard about Operation Christmas Child many times over the years but I had never personally participated. I was unsure of how the whole process works and what we were actually going to do. As it turns out, it’s really easy and quite fun.
I’m the kind of person who will avoid shopping in an actual store at any cost. If there is any possible way to buy a product online instead of having to deal with parking lots and lineups, I’m there. So I can’t say I was super excited to go to a store and shop. I was so wrong.
We chose to shop for a little boy in the age range of 5-9, and it was awesome. I had completely forgotten the joys of walking down the toy aisles (it was just one aisle when I was a kid!) and seeing all the fun things available. It was really hard not to grab one of everything. I just kept picturing this little guy with a smile on his face as he opened up the gifts we chose and it made me want to go a little crazy.
Once we got home we had to deal with packing the gifts in a shoebox. I know Susan gives me the credit for this, but it was more her than me. My idea of strategically packing the shoebox was to jam everything in it and then force the box shut. She packed and re-packed it until everything fit just right.
I’m so excited to wake up on Christmas morning and know that in some small way, we made a difference for a little boy in another part of the world. It’s easy to get down sometimes when we compare our lives to other people, but in reality even the average person in Canada or the U.S. is wealthy beyond imagination in comparison to some other places in the world. We have a lot to be thankful for so giving back in some way is the least any of us can do.
You obviously don’t have to choose the same charity we did, but I hope this inspires you to help someone who needs it however you see fit. We had a lot of fun taking part in Operation Christmas Child together and making a date out of it. I can safely say we’ll be doing something similar next year.
If you’re not sure what charity you’d like to support, the link below is a great resource. It is broken down into categories of giving, such as medical and human rights, and as well as by geographical location (Canada, USA, UK, Australia). We’ve also included links to some specific charities you might want to take a look at:
- Feed Nova Scotia (stuff a bus, canstruction, etc.)
- IWK/QEII hospitals
- Canadian Cancer Society (relay for life)
- Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (Run for the Cure) or Bust a Move
- Adsum House
- Habitat for Humanity
- Bide Awhile or SPCA (animal rescue)