Still time to pack a box for Operation Christmas Child
By Don Davis
For The Salisbury Post
One day, Anna Davis was attending chapel at Franklin Heights Christian School, and two special visitors, her grandparents, were there to promote Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Not only did they explain the importance of packing the shoe boxes and what to include and not include, but they showed an OCC promotional video.
Anna and the other students were thrilled to see children opening their boxes of goodies and also learned that each shoe box recipient gets the little book, “The Greatest Gift of All,” which tells the story of Jesus. The Franklin Heights students were told that most of the children on the video had never received a gift from anyone and that the book was the first book of their own.
Seeing the joy of the children excited Anna, and she said to herself, “I wonder if I could be one of those shoe boxes? I would love to be able to give a little girl a present and see her smile and the excitement she received when she takes each item out of the box. How nice it would be to read “The Greatest Gift of All” to that little girl and explain to her about how I received Jesus as my Savior and how that decision changed my life.” Anna said, “I wonder if God would let me go.”
Anna stored this thought in her mind and started asking her sisters, Ashleigh and Alison, how they would like to be an Operation Christmas Child shoe box and travel far away to bring happiness to a little girl about their age. Neither of them gave much credence to Anna’s question and shrugged it off as a wild idea. Anna couldn’t get it out of her mind and waited impatiently for the time her mother, Leigh Ann, would take her to shop for her box.
Finally, that day came. Leigh Ann didn’t have to ask Anna twice, because Anna was ready to shop. She then remembered what her granddaddy had told them during his presentation, “Pray that you will get the perfect gift for the child He has selected to receive your shoe box.” Anna asked her mother, Ashleigh and Alison to pray before they started out to the store.
As they shopped Anna and her sisters kept examining many items as candidates for the box. They got the normal things, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, facecloth, hard candy (individually wrapped), a pair of sandals, a small stuffed animal, and school supplies. Yet that did not seem enough, so Anna said, “Mommy, could I get a Barbie Doll?” She had seen the large smiles on the girl in the video and how she rejoiced over the getting a baby doll. Leigh Ann agreed and they were off for home to pack the boxes.
Anna, Ashleigh and Alison carefully placed the items in their boxes. Prior to shutting the lid and putting on the rubber bands, they wrote a letter to the girl who would receive their box of goodies. They also placed a photo of the family in their boxes. Their mother made sure to include $7 for shipping each of their boxes. Now, the boxes were ready to be taken to school for dedication of the boxes during their chapel services.
During chapel, the next day, Anna could not help but pray, “Lord let me be my shoe box.” After the service, all the boxes were accumulated and taken to Memorial Methodist Church, the relay center in Kannapolis. Wayne and Jean Anderson and their workers packed the shoe boxes into cases for transfer to the distribution center in Charlotte.
That night before going to bed, Anna said her prayers with a reminder to Jesus that she really would like to be a shoe box and be able to make a child happy. She went to sleep with this one goal still laying heavy on her mind. As Anna slept she began to dream and surely she became a shoe box as she asked.
Anna realizes she is on a conveyor line with someone plundering through her contents. She hears the person say, “I see this box has the shipping cost envelope,” and passes the box across the way to an inspector. The box is opened to make sure there are no forbidden items such as chocolates, liquids and war toys and to place new items in the box if it lacks the essentials. Finally someone says everything is ready. With the tape applied, Anna feels snug and tight and the box is forwarded on for placing in another case for final shipping to the designated country. Anna knows that it is dark inside and she is being taken from place to place until she hears people talking with a strange accent. She has made that trip through the port in Charleston and spent many days on a ship.
The next thing Anna knows, she has been taken from the case and is in the hands of people who are sorting the boxes by age. Anna can see now; there is a long line of children waiting. Each has eyes as big as saucers. She feels the soft touch of a lady who hands her to a little girl named Tina with brown eyes and wearing no shoes. Her hands are soiled and her hair is a little stringy.
Yet, when she takes the shoe box (Anna) into her arms, all Anna can feel is love and warmth. She sits down on the ground and a lady takes a pair of scissors and removes the tape.
Now, Anna is open and the little hands are going through her and all Anna can hear is screaming by all the other children around her. Tina picks up Barbie and says, “Pretty! Pretty! Pretty!” She is so filled with joy she cannot contain herself. The closest thing Anna can relate is when Prince Charming placed the slipper on Cinderella’s foot and it fit. Then, Tina sees the sandals and places them on her feet and they fit perfectly. Anna thought, “God never makes a mistake.”
Tears come streaming down Tina’s face and she looks and asks the lady, “Who gave me this box? I have never had anyone who has been so good to me.” She sees the candy and takes a piece and puts it into her mouth.
Anna doesn’t know whether to feel good or sad. She is glad to see the tremendous joy of Tina, but sad because she knows she can’t take her home with her. The little girl then takes the letter and picture of Anna and listens while the lady reads to her what Anna has written. Lastly, she sees the little book, “The Greatest Gift of All” and turns to read just a few pages. She then says, “This shoe box with all the good things came to you because a little girl named Anna in the United States. She gave it to you because she loves Jesus and wants you to know him too.”
Anna suddenly woke up from the dream. The next morning, she was bubbling with joy as she told her mother and dad about her dream and little Tina. She explained why Operation Christmas Child sends boxes to children around the world. They want little boys and girls to understand Jesus loves them. If Tina and the other children read the “The Greatest Gift of All,” they will learn Jesus wants them to become one of his children. Jesus does love little ones from all parts of the earth and he is still calling them to himself.
Operation Christmas Child collection week is Monday, Nov. 14, to Monday, Nov. 21. You still have time to pack a box for a child somewhere in the four corners of this earth. You may give a child the first gift he or she has ever received.
Local collection sites
Memorial United Methodist Church
1100 W C Street
Kannapolis NC 28081
Mon: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tues: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wed: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thurs: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Fri: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sat: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sun: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Mon: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Pitts Baptist Church
140 Pitts School Road
Concord NC 28027
Mon: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tues: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Wed: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thurs: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Fri: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sat: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sun: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Mon: 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Shiloh Reformed Church of Faith
100 S Main Street
Faith NC 28041
Mon: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Tues: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Wed: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Thurs: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Fri: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Sat: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sun: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Mon: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Providence Baptist Church
5315 Highway 49 S
Harrisburg NC 28075
Mon: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tues: 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Wed: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thurs: 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Fri: 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sat: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Sun: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Mon: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church
1260 N College Street
Mount Pleasant NC 28124
Mon: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tues: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Wed: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thurs: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Fri: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sat: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sun: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon: 9 a.m. – 12 p.
Catawba College (also a relay center)
2300 W. Innes Street
Salisbury NC 28144
Mon: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Tues: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Wed: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Thurs: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Fri: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Saint John’s Lutheran Church (also a relay center)
200 W Innes Street
Salisbury NC 28144
Mon: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. Tues: 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Wed: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Thurs: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Fri: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sun: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Mon: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
South River United Methodist Church
2880 S River Church Road
Woodleaf NC 27054
Mon: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tues: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Wed: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thurs: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Fri: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sat: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sun: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Mon: 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.