Five in a Row always wants to encourage a lifestyle of learning, and that means there’s a lot more learning that occurs outside a planned Five in a Row unit. Developing family traditions is something we often speak of as part of that lifestyle, and Operation Christmas Child is a great way to get involved with helping children around the world at Christmas time. (It’s far from the only way to help, though!) I know many of you probably participate in Operation Christmas Child, so I thought I’d share a few ideas and links that we use that make it a bit more of a lifestyle activity for us.
We try to choose children that are the same ages as our own. It seems to make it easy to relate to, and they are able to purchase with their own likes in mind. **That said, OCC receives more boxes for girls ages 5-9 than any other group – over three times more! So if you can choose children in other age groups, it is helpful to them. Because my daughter is 6, this year we’ll revert to a smaller girl.
We will read the before Five in a Row book, Prayer for a Child, and “pray for the children far and near.” We will also thank the Lord for “this milk… bread… and soft and waiting bed” and be mindful that these children receiving our boxes quite likely don’t have any of these. Depending on the sensitivity of your child, you can also talk about the security and danger issues brought up and how those affect children in other areas of the world.
We read Boxes for Katje : After World War II there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom “thick and bright,” Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje’s street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What’s inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks – beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same. (Italics from Amazon.) It’s not exactly the same situation, but it can help the children relate to the receivers of their boxes.
We watch a short official video (hosted by Scotty McCreary) about how he packs his Operation Christmas Child box.
We go to this page and print the “Coloring Page” so we can share a bit about ourselves with the child who will be receiving our box! (If you wait until the last minute like I sometimes do, we just print our photos with a color printer on regular paper and it works just fine.)
We have our boxes prepared this way so that we find out where our box went! Last year, our boxes went to Ghana.
I had the privilege of spending a day packing boxes at the main processing center a few years ago. Here’s my personal blog post about that day if you are interested. I’d love to go back and do this again! (It’s very hard to get a spot as a volunteer. Calling dates open in August and are usually booked up with the first few HOURS, so if you want to have the opportunity, check into it early!)
Alternatively or additionally, you could choose to participate in your local Angel Tree program, meeting the needs of children who have a parent in prison.
Whether you participate in Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree or some other giving ministry, most of these ideas will apply and can help your child relate to those less fortunate than he! Buying gifts for other children is a wonderful tradition to include in your Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations each year!
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Disclaimer: Five in a Row is not in any way affiliated with any organizations of the links included here. Any ideas represented there are not necessarily held by Five in a Row.