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Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes criticized by Reverand

LETTER: Retired Reverand urging people not to send shoeboxes through Operation Christmas Child

You are going to see the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. If you have filled one, I’m asking you to stop. If you are thinking about making this a family project, don’t.

Let’s look at the effect OCC has. Last Christmas, 6.6 million shoeboxes were distributed in 95 countries. Pamphlets extolling the virtues of Christianity are given to the children either in the boxes or alongside it. Our gifts are being used as a tool of evangelism.

The United Nations declaration of the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief states, “every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter or religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, and shall not be compelled to receiving teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principal.” Imagine your child returning to your home with a shoebox and one of these pamphlets and you are a Buddhist, a Hindu or a Muslim. How would you feel?

OCC believes our gift-giving has no impact on the local economy. What we give is beyond the local population to purchase.

Imagine your child coming home with a shoebox, opening it and discovering things which you could never afford. OCC believes the pens, pencils and stationary we pack has no effect on the storekeeper where they give out our gifts.

Imagine the impact of 40 or 50 stationary sets on a local family selling these in their village. Imagine what could happen to a family who sells toys.

“But what if I want my children to experience the true meaning of Christmas, the importance of giving?” There are many opportunities to support local charities. If picking out a toy is a family memory you want to build, gifts to the children’s gift giving by the Salvation Army is a start.

“We were planning to pack some toiletries in our shoebox.” Again, there are agencies working with individuals recovering from addiction who will welcome what you give.

There are agencies who work for the whole community and not just a few, lucky individuals. You could buy a goat, help build a school or provide health care products. They are bought in the communities where the help is given as much as possible.

Grandparents volunteered to host a Salvation Army Christmas kettle. They brought their grandchildren. “I want them to see how many folks donate and how many walk right by,” they said. “I hope they will learn by what they see. Giving is a choice we can make. Generosity takes a lifetime to practise.”

Rev. Mark Malek (retired)