This month I introduced a mini project to the two Missions classes (kindergarten to fifth grade) at our church. We began studying about Ralph and Tammy Stocks and their work in Hungary with the Roma (Gypsies). To give the kids a way to physically act on what they're learning, they collected items to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The shoeboxes are sent to children around the world.
As an introductory activity to the project, we took time to paint paper to wrap the shoeboxes. With a table covered in white paper, sponges cut into Christmas shapes, and paint galore, the kids set to work. The younger children used the sponges to put candy canes, crosses, and stars on the paper. The older kids decorated the paper and wrote "Merry Christmas" and "Jesus." They particularly seemed to understand that they could touch someone's life when I showed them a slideshow of kids around the world receiving the boxes from previous years' donations. I had their full attention; they smiled and spoke of how happy the children looked as they received their gifts.
When it came time to pack up the boxes, I was worried we wouldn't have collected many items since there had only been two weeks notice. I was completely wrong, as the church and the children donated tables full of toys, books, and toiletries. We even had church members bring already stuffed boxes. In all, the kids collected and filled 31 shoeboxes! They even colored a picture of the nativity scene to include with their gift. It sounds like we'll hear where the boxes are delivered now that Operation Christmas Child has the option of including a barcode on the box to track its travels. This is a nice new feature so that the kids can get a follow-up to their efforts and look on a map to see where their gifts are delivered.