Christmas in a Shoebox

A gift-wrapped box

Takpor Tiah held up a toothbrush.

“See these?” said Takpor, a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School in Muscatine, Iowa, according to the Muscatine Journal.  “Put one of these in each box.”

Takpor and other kids spent a busy night packing up Christmas gifts last month.

Now, a toothbrush might not sound like a great Christmas gift to you.

But to a lot of kids around the world, it’s like the answer to a prayer.

This month, kids in as many as 130 countries will reportedly get shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts – not just toothbrushes, but things such as washcloths, crayons, coloring books and candy, too.

It’s all thanks to an international project called Operation Christmas Child – a project designed to make sure that kids don’t go without gifts this holiday season.

“Giving kids Christmas that don’t have Christmas, man, that’s just the coolest thing to me,” said Hagan Hancock, an eighth-grader at Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in an interview with Baton Rouge TV station WVLA.

Last month, people around the country packed millions of shoeboxes with holiday gifts – gifts for needy kids in such far-flung countries as Madagascar, Ukraine and Uganda, according to the Palm Beach (Florida) Post.

At Parkview Baptist alone, the kids reportedly packed nearly 1,000 boxes.

“(And) it’s not just the tangible things,” eighth-grader Katy Caughman told WVLA reporter Brix Fowler.  “It’s the hope that’s in the box.”

According to published reports, each box also contains a bible or an inspirational message, written in the recipient’s own language.

“Operation Christmas Child” began in 1993, according to the Journal.

Since then, nearly 100 million kids around the world have gotten one of those shoeboxes.

And it’s not just the recipients who are getting something out of “Operation Christmas Child.”

The kids who’ve donated, boxed up and sent off the gifts are learning important lessons about life.

“Always appreciate what you have,” Katy told WVLA.  “Because you never know when you’re not going to have it.”

“It’s definitely (about) being thankful,” Hagan added.  “Thankful that you’ve been blessed.”