It was my first shoebox. Not to say there aren't many boxes stacked tightly in my closet filled with spiked heels, comfy flats and laced boots.
But this shoebox was different in a very special way. It was one that a young girl between the ages of 11 and 14 would open faraway to find carefully packed surprises -- all with her in mind.
This shoebox would be one of many finding its way into the hands of children of all ages in more than 100 war-torn and developing countries. It happens through Operation Christmas Child, an endeavor of the Christian international relief organization, Samaritan's Purse.
I found that filling a shoebox makes giving to a needy boy or girl more fun and personally satisfying than finding the right pair of shoes.
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I had picked up the brochure at church not ever dreaming how the act of choosing pretty socks, a hot pink tee and other "girly" items would be as enjoyable as seeking treasures for a granddaughter. What I also didn't expect was the emotional attachment I would feel to the unknown girl who would open the shoebox decorated with hearts.
At the last moment before taping it shut, I wrote a note embellished with creative hearts and enclosed a picture of my husband and me. Children enjoy knowing who gave them the Christmas gifts, according to the Operation Christmas Child information. If an address is included, some may even write.
For now, it's enough to know my shoebox filled with gifts is winging its way from the Tri-Cities -- one of the 12,643 -- and will be opened by an eager young girl. What I hope she discovers inside is God's love -- and our heartstrings.