A few weekends ago, I spent the day surrounded by more than 950 bikers at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. It was a great day filled with loud motorcycles and cheerful hearts.
For those of you who know me, hanging out with bikers is not really my scene, but if you add in a great cause like Operation Christmas Child (OCC), then I’m ready to rumble.
While in college, I started volunteering as a year-around volunteer in the High Country with OCC. It is a great faith-based organization that helps children all over the world. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, started OCC in 1993 as a Christmas project to give children in poor countries a gift of hope at Christmas time. It has grown to be the largest Christmas project in the world.
OCC revolves around a very simple idea. Pack a shoebox with toys, school supplies, hygiene products, and small gifts and turn that box in at a relay center or at a Processing Center. The box will then be delivered to a child.
OCC delivers to more than 100 countries and has more than 400,000 year-round volunteers just like me. This year, we will pass the 100 million shoeboxes collected mark. That is 100 million children who have received a gift at Christmas. It’s simple and yet has a profound effect on children all over the world.
I’ve met children-now adults-that received a shoebox when they were little. Their stories are powerful and heart breaking. Many of the children who receive the shoeboxes have never received a present before in their lives. Some have no possessions in any form. They live in orphanages, on the streets, in broken homes, and many times in trash dumps.
OCC is a small way to bring hope and joy to their lives. Who wouldn’t want to help?
I love this organization. That’s why when I graduated and I was offered the position of Church Relations Coordinator for Charlotte for OCC, I couldn’t pass it up. No, I don’t get paid. Yes, sometimes it feels like a full-time job, but I love helping, and this is all that matters. One day, I will go on a distribution trip and pass out boxes to the children myself, and it will be wonderful, and I will most likely want to bring some of the children back with me, but until that day, I will continue to pack and collect shoeboxes and help coordinate cool events like Bikers with Boxes.
If you want to know more about packing a shoebox or getting your organization involved, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the OCC website at www.samaritanspurse.org/ occ.