Speaking from spiritual accounts, His is indeed the greatest story ever told.
Yet, another Christmas miracle is that which warms our hearts, softens our step and moistens our eyes. It is the miracle of a child’s smile.
Such a gift is the intriguing beauty of our children of Mother Earth. Yet a smile does not grace the face of all. It does not adorn the cherished features of many. That is because not every child is born to a life of opportunity. Not all understand the treasure of a tiny toy or the love of a parent who brought it to be.
Many in this world are born outside the welcome mat of love.
Many in this world face the cruelties of a life without, while never understanding their potential that lies deep from within.
Many in this world never feel an embrace, nor do they relish the comfort of a supportive word nor follow the strength of a guiding hand.
Many in this world will never wrap little fingers around the joy of a favored plaything.
These are the children of an unforgiving world. These are the tiniest of a global litter who fall victim to their unchosen surroundings.
These are the youngsters of true need.
And in the most touching of Christmas miracles, they are the unloved tots whose faces line the conscience of all who reach out to Operation Christmas Child with a simple shoebox of love.
A voice for children since beginning as an OCC collection center in 1995, Life Care Centers of America is now in its final full week of shoebox collection for the coming Christmas season. The final day is Monday, Nov. 25.
Filled shoeboxes may be delivered to Life Care’s Campbell Center at 3001 Keith St. The final days and hours for collection include:
n Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
n Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
n Monday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Contributors should decide whether the gift is for a boy or girl and the age range which includes 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14.
Shoeboxes should be filled with toys that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yoyos, jump ropes, balls, and toys that light up and make noise (please include extra batteries).
Other items that can be packed include school supplies, personal hygiene (toothbrush, soap in a plastic bag, comb, washcloth), and accessories like T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry and watches.
Donors are encouraged to insert a personal note, name and address. This creates a connection and helps the child to feel the love that accompanies each shoebox of items.
And, if it is doable, shoebox donors are asked to consider making a $7 donation for each box to help cover shipping costs. Checks should be made payable to Samaritan’s Pursue or the donation may be made online by going to the Operation Christmas Child website. Using the online option will also show the shoebox destination.
Before dropping off the shoebox, donors are asked to wrap it with a firm rubber band.
Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care Centers of America which is an OCC national sponsor, takes a personal interest in the project each year. His is a hands-on approach, not because his Life Care volunteers aren’t already outstanding champions of the cause, but because he wants to be directly involved.
It’s who he is.
It’s the leadership style he epitomizes each and every day.
It’s his belief in the miracle of every child no matter the circumstance and regardless of national origin.
It isn’t difficult to support a program like Operation Christmas Child when knowing the caliber of men and women who embrace its warmth.
We urge all to remember the children of our world this Christmas season.
We encourage all to see far beyond the shoebox. In its most basic sense, this is a tiny chest of trinkets that entertain the mind and tug the heart, but its message of life, love and goodwill is an everlasting message that all should hear.
Operation Christmas Child is a genuine miracle, but its true beauty lies in the smiles of our world’s most innocent, so many of whom are never heard and just as many who are never seen.
It’s just a shoebox. But it’s a world of hope.