Hope in a Simple Shoebox
By Leigh Lawson
A young girl in Zambia received a simple Shoebox that held many gifts, including a pair of basic white knee socks. This simple gift of socks was exactly what she needed. She was thrilled because socks were required for her school uniform. She explained that because she now had socks, she would no longer be punished daily for not having a complete uniform. The socks were within a Shoebox that was lovingly packed and sent to her through the Christian ministry, Operation Christmas Child (OCC).
This is among the many touching stories that Wendi Haley of Center Grove has to share from her trip to Zambia. Wendi is the Community Relations Coordinator for the Central Indiana Area Team for OCC. She was selected from numerous OCC volunteers to experience the joy of giving the children the OCC Shoeboxes.
OCC brings Christmas to children around the world with the lesson of the Gospel. Welshman David Cook founded OCC in 1990 with the desire to provide for the children of war-torn Bosnia. In 1993, Samaritan’s Purse adopted the ministry, collecting 28,000 boxes in its first year. Since 1993, over 100 million Shoeboxes have been packed by donors and gone out to children in 130 countries. Their focus has been on serving children that have suffered through hardships such as war, famine, poverty and natural disasters.
Wendi helps coordinate donations, volunteers and packing parties with area businesses, civic and community groups and schools. Center Grove’s Christ Youth Bible Clubs (CYBC) have participated in OCC since their beginning five years ago. Last year, CYBC packed 392 boxes full of treasures to donate to the ministry.
Jerlyn Shepherd from CYBC states, “Center Grove CYBCparticipates in OCC during Bible Club to give the students a practical way to live out their faith. We are doing this simply as a means of sharing God’s love with others.” They will be packing their donations of toys, candies and school and art supplies November 13. The CYBC kids have been collecting for weeks.
Wendi urges everyone to visit the website samaritanspurse.org/occ to see the personal stories of children that have had their lives blessed by receiving their Shoebox and the love that came with it. One particularly touching video is of Lejla from Bosnia and how the Shoebox delivered precisely what she physically and emotionally needed. It gave her hope when all seemed hopeless. The YouTube link, youtu.be/_LGGtWC528I, is her video testimony.
You can also visit the OCC website to learn how you can be involved in this ministry through volunteering and donations. You can find the addresses and the hours of the 18 collection sites that will be open across Central Indiana during the week of November 18-25. You can make an incredible difference in the life of a child with hope in a simple Shoebox.
Leigh and her husband, Mike, have called Center Grove their home for 14 years. They chose Center Grove as the ideal place to raise their two children, Eric and Julia. She is an active member of Mount Pleasant Christian Church where she writes an online Bible study.