It's that time of year again: shoebox fillin' time. Mommys and Daddys, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, friends, classmates, teachers and youth groups all gather together and continue on with a grand and glorious tradition of putting Christmas presents together for children around the world. It's a terrific thing, watching even the smallest tots help pick out just the rights toys, sweets and hairbrushes for each individual box. It's also amazing to watch the delight in community groups, schools and churches as they all rally together and collect these precious gems. Samaritan's Purse has done a good thing. And the good thing continues on.
However… does anyone else besides me find an awkward irony in all this? Does anyone else see the strangeness in the giving of these gifts?
We raid Wal-Mart and every dollar store we can find from here to Newfoundland buying products made in foreign countries with the use of slave labour that, in the end, wind up in the shoeboxes then sent back to those same people (children included) who manufacture them. Toys from China, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam… candy made with sugar farmed in the Caribbean… clothing made in Laos, Nepal, China, Peru…
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
In an effort to reach suffering people, we are inadvertantly perpetuating the slave trade to do it. It must stop. Does that mean we should end Operation Christmas Child???? Not at all! All I'm saying is: let's take a good hard look at what we're filling our boxes with and deliberately choose to find products made without slave labour. Let's take a good thing and keep making GREAT.
Rocky Mountain Soap Company
Ten Thousand Villages
Many wool and yarn producers now sell recycled wool lines. Use those to make toques, mitts, scarves, socks, face cloths and the like. Check out your local Farmers' Markets for handmade toys and decorations. Look into sending recycled or handmade paper products. They are there! Feel free to send me your ideas so I can post them and share them!
Yes… this will cost a bit more. But whenever I think of this "Operation Shoebox" I am constantly reminded of Jesus feeding the 5000… 5 loaves, 2 fish. That's it. And yet every person there went away full and the disciples had their work cut out for them collecting the leftovers. Cost is not our worry here. We give what we have and the rest is up to Christ.
So go forth and fill thy shoeboxes! If you want to know how, here's a little help from my friend Larry. He has a good way of explaining things. Merry Christmas!