At Friends Life, you can typically find our Friends looking forward to the next best thing, even if that event won’t be taking place for a few more months. Once that next best thing arrives, even it loses its shine within minutes, and they begin talking about the next party, the next dinner, outing, birthday or holiday.
I went shopping in late October, and realized that our Friends are almost programmed to act this way. With Halloween only a few days away, the Christmas decoration extravaganza was being set up just one aisle over. Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? It seems that retail stores have put out their Christmas finest much earlier than normal this year. Before even Halloween OR Thanksgiving. Friends Life participated in a project this year where looking forward to something so far in the future worked to our advantage.
Samaritans Purse has a program called Operation Christmas Child, that sends shoe boxes full of gifts to needy children all around the world. (Find more information at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/ ) This year, Friends Life decided to learn more about Operation Christmas Child and to pack a few boxes to send across the world. We started preparations for this project in September when we spent a few days learning about orphans. We also took some time to watch a few of the videos at the Operation Christmas Child website that told beautiful stories about what happens to the boxes and gifts that are donated. Instead of just learning about what the word orphan means and discussing what it must feel like to be an orphan, our Friends got to hear from orphans what it was like to receive that gift, and to see the faces of the orphan children as they receive their boxes.
Putting together our boxes for Operation Christmas Child proved to be more than just giving a gift to an orphan for Christmas. It was an art project when we decorated the boxes. It was a brainstorming activity when we created a list of possible gifts to include. It was an exercise in thinking about others, as each group picked a boy or girl and decided what age they would be, and then thought of the things they would like. It was also a time to practice independence, math skills and budgeting as we walked around the store looking to spend our alloted money. It was practice for working in a group, as everyone was paired up to complete their boxes. It was a writing lesson when they worked together to write a poem for the orphans, to tell them more about Friends Life. It was a time of learning, sharing and love as we spent time preparing our gifts for these children.
Collection week ended today, but you should consider putting together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child next year. As you can probably guess, many our Friends have informed us that they are already looking forward to doing this activity next year.