Monday, November 7, 2011

Operation Christmas Child




My sister and her kids drove 5 hours each way to see us for less than 24 hours this weekend. It’s just so wonderful and terrible to see them. Seeing her son, just 9 months older than Jack, is heartbreaking. I love my nephew; I need him; I am so sad for him; I am jealous my sister has him to hold.

Weekends are the worst around here. Too much tv. Too much computer. Too much time. Too much quiet. Margaret doesn’t want to do anything we used to do together like hiking or geocaching. Which leaves us with more tv, or shopping. I’ve been to the mall more in the last 2 months than in the past several years. I don't blame Margaret. I don't want to do anything I used to want to do either.


When my sis and the cousins usually visit, we sit in the kitchen talking, or engaging in parallel play while reading magazines and sipping tea. We leave the kids to their own devices. Outings? Meh. Not usually. The kids would be having too much fun to want to go anywhere.


But this time we needed an activity, so we worked on our Operation Christmas Child boxes for Samaritan’s Purse. This was one of Jack and Margaret’s favorite charitable activities because packing a shoebox full of toys and goodies to enable a child somewhere in the world to experience Christmas is a tangible way to spread God’s love as well as count your own blessings.

Last year we packed 10 boxes, but Jack said “Next year we’ve gotta do 20!” Margaret and I started shopping for items in the spring and summer as we would see things on sale. After Jack died, we asked people to contribute to Samaritan’s Purse in Jack’s name. Many, many people did, and we are grateful that through our loss, children are receiving Christmas gifts all over the world.

We were joined on our shopping trip by my sister, her kids, and Jack and Margaret's favorite babysitter from when they were younger. This week Margaret, Tim, and I will lead the 5th/6th grade youth group at our church as they pack boxes. Next week we’ll join Tim’s colleagues as they do the same. We already know my car will hold dressers and chairs and junk off of the street. I am excited to see how many stuffed shoeboxes will fit in it.

If you are interested in making shoeboxes with your family, here is the information about what to put in them. You will also find drop off locations listed. Many Chick-Fil-A restaurants give out free shoeboxes and are drop-off spots. My blog friend Ellen is doing shoe boxes with her students in honor of Jack and they are including things Jack would have liked such as Legos, Puzzles, Hot Wheels Cars, balls, and brain teasers.


Box collection takes place next week, Nov 14-21.


Thank you for considering this service project for your family.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love that y'all are doing shoe-boxes and supporting this wonderful organization. I had the privilege of handing out shoe-boxes while on a mission trip in Ecuador once. It was such a neat experience to see the people in such need receive these gifts. Thanks for supporting them and encouraging others to do the same! - Meagan

Laura said...

Wonderful . . . and will do!
I don't know you, but I think of you and your family so many times during the day - offering a prayer each time I do. How I wish with all my heart that such a tragedy never happened . . . but I hope it brings you some measure of comfort to know that countless people are sending love and prayers your way. Thank you for sharing your painful journey with us. Hugs for continued strength to your sweet little family - and happy thoughts of your amazing angel, Jack . . . who continues to inspire so many - and must be so proud of his loving family.

Lisa said...

We will do a few...great idea to show my boys the true meaning of Christmas.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

My kids and I will be putting a box together this year in Jack's honor. I've told them about Jack many times over the past several weeks and they are always interested to hear about your sweetie!

Rach said...

My nephew is six weeks older than Hannah. I understand the heartache of seeing your nephew. It's gotten easier over the course of the past four years, but it still hurts sometimes.

What a beautiful thing you all are doing with your boxes. I'm sure Jack is THRILLED you are making it 20 boxes (or more!). :o)


Prayers, and so many hugs,
Rach

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I wanted you to know that I gave a donation today in memory of Jack to Samaritan's Purse. ((HUGS))

Formerly known as Frau said...

What a wonderful weekend project to do and especially one that is a favorite of your kids. It warms my heart all that you do....you are an amazing person and so is your family.

gillian said...

boxes full of legos...
jack's "lego-cy" :)

still thinking about you all.

LauraBeth said...

Anna... Our boxes are already packed and ready to go! We haven't done OCC boxes before, but are doing so this year, because of Jack (and Margaret). My older daughter is also bummed that she can't make it to KN5/6 on Friday to help make more. Thank you for letting us know about OCC. Sending (((hugs))) and prayers, always.

purejoy said...

My family has made shoe boxes for years. So thankful that Jack's passion is spreading via so many people.
I had the opportunity to serve with SP this summer when I went to volunteer to help after the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa where my daughter attends college. She was back for orientation for Nursing School, and I needed to help in some way.
I had no idea the SP was such a force in disaster relief. I was blessed beyond measure to be able to help in a small way and so thankful to see God's hand all over the city of Tuscaloosa. Knowing they are on the ground in AL and in places like Joplin, MO make me feel like everyone's going to be okay.
Your post about Margaret made me cry like a baby. I can't wait to hear all about it.
Press on, MommaAnna. You are loved and prayed for beyond measure. xxoo

L said...

I love you so much. We are enjoying doing this project with you, and Jack is in the front of our minds and hearts as we do. I was raiding the kids' rooms for some new looking old toys to think of adding, but the kids both vetoed a Webkinz - Jack had helped to pick it out!

I hate that it is hard to see us. Thankful that you do anyway. Love you.

PS we also have yo-yos for some of our boxes!

starnes family said...

Anna, I literally just posted about this very project moments ago!

I've just started reading your blog....my heart breaks for you.....and I admire your ability to share your story with us.

Lindsay said...

how wonderful...my husband and I have plans to fill shoeboxes this year in memory/honor of Jack and Margaret. I grew up filling the shoeboxes with my family and it's so exciting to start this tradition now with my husband. Thank you for continuing to share with us and allow us to get to know sweet Jack. Praying hard for your family and sending lots of love from Falls Church! :)

mia said...

The watts family will be filling boxes for Samaritans purse... Jack is in our hearts as we do. Praying hard for your little family and sending love from Richmond. Xoxo

NanaDiana said...

We did this for many, many years through the church we used to attend. It is a wonderful, wonderful outreach. How wonderful that so many people gave in Jack's name. xo Diana

Nic said...

I used to do this while I was at school, I'm now 21 and haven't done it for years. Think I'm going to do two boxes this year. I always loved doing them. Your blog as really touched me, caused tears and warmed my heart at the same time. What a strong woman you are. I found your blog completely randomly by clicking 'next blog', and I'm so glad I did. Love reading your posts. Nic x

for a different kind of girl said...

I love this charitable opportunity, and have already done some boxes with my kids this season, but we're absolutely going to do some more this week in Jack's memory.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

This morning is the first anniversary of my friend Vicki's death. So I'm a little weepy anyway, mostly because I know anniversaries hit her mom hard, and I love her mom. So...you mentioned my class collection and now I'm crying.

I'm only doing one box (the kids will wind up with three or four for the class), and I shopped with Jack in mind on Sunday afternoon. I bought too much, but my husband thinks he can get it all in our box--if not, I guess we'll do another!

Vicki's mom and dad did OCC last year as a way of "Living Victoriously," something Vicki made them promise to do.

Oh Jack. Oh Vicki.

Oh Jesus.

Jennifer said...

I am a Girl Scout leader and we are making boxes.

Anonymous said...

What a good thing. You have quite the family, Anna. Kind, generous, loving--and showing it.

love,
jbhat

Melanie in NC said...

Anna! We love Operation Christmas Child...and I love that Jack & Margaret had such a generous goal for this year...I think as you typed this we were filling our boxes and now we will seal them in your honor....Making a difference...I once had a soldiers widow tell me "the grief is unbearable and so powerful....now its what I do with that power"...You are already on the frontlines using it to make the word a better place...God Bless...Melanie in NC...oh and I loved the individuals comment...Jack's "lego-cy" He is building/ sending hope from heaven!

Caroline & Cameron said...

Hi Anna -

I lead a youth group at All Saints' United Methodist Church (in Raleigh, NC), which is also where I first heard of Jack's story through the mother of someone in your town.

We are leading our congregation in Operation Christmas Child over the next two weeks and would love to do this entire project in honor of Jack.

I wonder how many boxes we will all collect total?!?! How amazing.

Maggie S. said...

Okay. Going to call our drop off center ASAP.

Leslie said...

Geez, Margaret is beautiful. Anyway, I'm thankful for Meagan, the first comment here - wow, how wonderful to be reminded that real little kids are REALLY BLESSED through these things. Thank you.

Yes, we will join in. I posted links on my blog to hopefully have more people do this as well.

Jack - what a kid. I'm so often impressed by his heart, and grateful for your sharing him with us. Keep on sharing him. As I've said, whenever you just want to talk about him, post. We will read and love hearing about him.

Praying for you constantly.

Anonymous said...

Margaret looks so grown up! Such a sweetheart.

One of many thank yous to her and Jack for the heads up on such a wonderful charity.

luv2run said...

Were IN! I printed out the labels, sat my boys down and talked about the program and they are super excited! Thanks for inspiring me to be a better person...AGAIN!!!!

In honor of Jack!!!!

Hugs from a stranger!

luv2run

Vodka Mom said...

Oh Anna. My heart thinks of you every single day. I re-live our own heartbreak each time I come here, but I see a different perspective. I am sorry that YOU are the one giving me that.

To hear your voice, to feel your pain, your strength and your courage - it's all amazing.

Please remember (when the tears fall) that you are lifting us all. We WANT to lift you, but it's been the other way around. Each and every day.

Anonymous said...

We love doing Operation Christmas Child, Anna, but this year we will be thinking of Jack and his great love for this ministry as we pack our boxes. :-) Jack has become the missionary he wanted to be (Romans 10:11-15)

Your cousin,
Emily R

Danielle said...

My kids and I pray for your family every night. They look for ways they can honor him and his memory. The most important way they do this is loving on each other. They remind each other now that what they have is a gift and how either one of them could be in Margaret's shoes. They are 10 and 7.

They will be honored to remember Jack by making boxes this year.

Dinosaur Mommy said...

I love Operation Christmas Child - we've been doing it for years. It's for such a great cause, and we always have a blast shopping for the kids. What a beautiful way to carry on Jack's legacy. God bless you!

Vanessa said...

The Hammonds are doing boxes in Jack's memory. Lee students always do this as a major campus service project, but for some reason we've never done it. That changes this year! I bought legos just for the boxes a few weeks ago. Thanks for sharing this way to stand with your family and bless other children. We love and continue to pray for you daily.

New Mom said...

Going shopping today! Our family loves this ministry and this year will be extra special as we fill boxes in Jack's memory. One year, a box that was sent out from our congregation was in the photograph with a child who received it... I pray you might see a picture of someone holding one of your boxes. If you haven't sent yours already, can you put some sort of identifier on it? God bless you all!

Anonymous said...

I am going to do this project this year with my nieces and nephew so that they might learn about how to help others. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a lovely tribute to Jack. I love that you shop year round, so this is always in your hearts and minds.

I buy dressy dresses at Marshalls and Ross when I find good deals and then donate them in spring to a school for homeless youth for the prom they put on. Jack's favorite project sounds like a perfect addition to my shopping trips.

Heidi said...

We do Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes here too through our school. It's fantastic.
Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to let you know Jack's spirit made its way to Canada! I have been reading your blog and have been so taken by your stories of your sweet Jack. I decided to make up shoe boxes with my family this year in Jacks memory! Hugs and prayers. M

PeachPrenni said...

We did this project for the first time this year and we talked about Jack and what a giving soul he was. We always talk about him and the way he lived his life..in particular his gift for internalizing the joy of others! Love that kid!! Love your family. Blessings! -Annie P.