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Red and Green Boxes October 19, 2018

My first exposure to Operation Christmas Child came as a teenager, through a local Baptist church. I remember in vivid detail my mom and I taking a box and heading out to shop for our gifts. We decided to shop for a younger, elementary-aged girl. I recall a desire to give her the world and all the silly things we thought were necessary for life as we knew it in the 1990’s: slap bracelets, Barbies, brightly-colored Lisa Frank everything. We bought so much that we struggled to securely close our red and green boxes, in fear that the thin chipboard would tear apart – leaving our box of blessings strewn across the kitchen floor, or worse, all over the teal carpet of the church altar.  Quick, grab another box! We did and filled it to the max. We took our boxes to church that November Sunday morning, piled high with so many others. While I understood the premise at the moment, I failed to understand the full impact of a simple gift and the impact that gift could have on furthering the truth, the Gospel of Christ, our Savior.

Fast-forward a few years. I’m a newlywed living in Dallas, Texas and working in student ministry while my husband completes his seminary degree. One evening, while having dinner with a long-serving missionary couple in their simple student apartment in Swiss Towers, we had a conversation that changed everything I ever believed about these red and green boxes. Across from me at the dinner table, sat a missionary pilot who flew Operation Christmas Child gifts into remote Kenyan villages in East Africa. I mean, this man was Santa! He humbly told stories about the children, the families, the box contents – and how they always seemed perfectly ordained.

Now in 2018, over 1 million shoeboxes in 100 countries later, Operation Christmas Child is still providing gifts to children and more importantly, sharing the Gospel with children and their families. These days, we pack boxes as a family of four, as well as at school with classmates and with the middle school ministry as a small group. Last year, we chose to volunteer during National Collection Week and assist in collecting boxes from the region in the Westover parking lot. Alongside other Westover families, we sorted, counted and packed thousands of gifts from churches and organizations in the surrounding area. While these boxes are intended to bless and encourage the life of a child hundreds of miles away, they encouraged our family to be more purposeful about packing our boxes and serving as a family. As our 2018 box contents are slowly filling up my dining room table, I think more specifically about the child who will receive one, how this gift could enhance their daily routine, and if they know the love of Christ.

-Beth Solberg, Staff Writer, Westover Creative Arts Team
This season consider how you can make a difference through Operation Christmas Child. There are a variety of ways, through Westover Church and beyond:
  1. PACK-A-BOX  |  Grab a box at the Local Ministry wall at Westover Church, or use your own empty shoebox or purchased plastic container. Decide whether you will pack a box for a girl or a boy, and the age category before you purchase items to fill your box. Select a medium to large “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump or stuffed animal, then fill with other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. Return you box to Westover during National Collection Week, November 12-19.
  2. VOLUNTEER AT WESTOVER DURING NATIONAL COLLECTION WEEK  |  Volunteers are needed November 12-19, 2018 to assist in processing boxes from our community. Serve as an individual, a family, or a small group. All are welcome! To find out more, contact Shannon Godwin.
  3. PROCESSING CENTER VOLUNTEER  |  Each box is inspected before arriving in the hands of a child. We are fortunate to have two processing centers within a 2-hour drive in Boone and Charlotte.
  4. GIVE  |  Every shoebox needs a $9 donation to provide for collecting, processing, shipping, and Gospel materials. If you make this donation online, you can follow your box and receive a tracking label. This label allows you to find out the country where your box will be delivered with the message of Christ’s love.