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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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A Shoebox, Is That All?

By Al Campbell, Court House

When we think about Christmas, it’s logical that we often think of the toys we got as children. Everyone remembers wanting a particular toy. Sometimes, the wonder of seeing that unique bike, skates or set of electric trains under the Christmas tree remains in one’s memory decades after that special day.

We may recall Christmas morning (or maybe Christmas Eve) when presents were exchanged, and there was a room filled almost to overflowing with presents.

Parents in this electronic age think of the myriad toys and gadgets they will give that require batteries of all shapes and sizes. Without batteries, what good are those toys? Other toys must be constructed, a feat that would make wise elves cringe.

I had to think about such things on Nov. 12 when the First United Methodist Church of Cape May Court House held its shoebox packing party for Operation Christmas Child.

That night, 187 small boxes were loaded with trinkets, balls, pencils, pens and more. Each box joined hundreds of others collected by area churches and families. All of them were organized at the church and hauled to a central distribution center where they would be rechecked and boxed into cartons that would go to children worldwide.

The most significant part of the Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child is that those shoeboxes are, for their young recipients, all that they will get for Christmas. We cannot imagine what each will mean to its recipient.

It is difficult to speculate how much joy a small box of things can mean to a child in a Third World country.

How many of our children, grandchildren, and others will get a bountiful array of presents and sit bored within a few hours, claiming, “I don’t have anything to do?” Most have, fortunately, never experienced abject poverty that afflicts the Third World.

A missionary who spent time in Ecuador told of the excitement in his village when Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes arrived.

Another man told me that several years ago, his family had packed shoeboxes and included a family photo and address in each. Months later, they received a letter from Pakistan from the boy who had received one of their shoeboxes. He told how much it meant to him and thanked them for caring about him.

Some might say it’s just a drop in the bucket, those shoeboxes, and they are correct. How could such a small thing impact this tired world? Linked with the Gospel message accompanying each shoebox, we will likely never know how one life was changed after coming to know the Man for whom Christmas is named.

Samaritan’s Purse, headquartered in Boone, North Carolina, is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

ED. NOTE: Campbell, the Herald’s managing editor emeritus, writes from Court House.

Reporter and former Managing Editor of the Cape May County Herald

Alfred S. “Al” Campbell, who covers Cape May County Board of County Commissioners, is a lifelong Court House resident. He retired as Herald Managing Editor in September 2019 after 32 years.

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