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.