Brooklyn White experienced the joy of Christmas all over again when she delivered gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in Uganda last week. White traveled to Africa as part of a special team with Operation Christmas Child.
Brooklyn White experienced the joy of Christmas all over again when she delivered gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in Uganda last week. White traveled to Africa as part of a special team with Operation Christmas Child. The group of staff and volunteers, along with Ugandan community and church leaders, handed out more than 5,000 shoe box gifts to children in schools, orphanages, & churches near Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, May 22-25.
Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, is a year-round project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham. Participants from all over Missouri, the U.S. and the world fill shoe boxes with school supplies, toys, necessity items and letters of encouragement for children living in extreme poverty around the world.
Some 8.6 million gifts were collected for Operation Christmas Child during the 2011 season and are being delivered to children in more than 100 countries worldwide including more than 100,000 boxes to Uganda.
Operation Christmas Child is made possible by tens of thousands of volunteers. White, who operates White Angus Cattle Ranch with her husband Larry, serves as Area Coordinator of the Operation Christmas Child volunteer leadership team in South Central Missouri which is made up of 13 counties in the area. She initially became involved in the project by packing shoe box gifts with her family. As Area Coordinator, she oversees the collection and promotional efforts of volunteers in South Central Missouri. Last year, the South Central Missouri area collected 9,527 boxes for Operation Christmas Child; 2525 of those came from the lake area.
“After packing boxes with my church and promoting the project year after year to local businesses and churches all over South Central Missouri, it was a dream come true to finally be a part of the final stage of the journey and hand a box to a child," said White. "To personally see a child overjoyed to receive a pencil and a stuffed toy was incredibly moving. How a simple shoe box gift filled with school supplies and hygiene items can truly change a childs’ life is overwhelming. Things that we take for granted everyday such as a pencils and paper are invaluable and can allow a child the chance to go to school!”
People from all over the lake area prayed for White as she embarked on this journey, as well as followed her journey on the Operation Christmas Child South Central Missouri Team Facebook Page. One local Camdenton woman, Dianna Dewerff crocheted teddy bears for White to hand out with her boxes. Dewerff hopes to make 100 bears to place in boxes for this year’s collection in November.
“On our last day in Kampala we went to distribute the gifts to a church in a slum area. The church was literally made up of sticks and pieces of tarp carefully put together to provide some shelter from the elements. The floor of the church, the dirt ground, had a ravine running through filled with waste. The smells and the extreme poverty were unlike anything I have ever seen before. The church invited children who live in the slum to come and receive a gift. I was able to give a box that I personally packed to a 14 year old boy named Wenderra. I packed a deflated soccer ball and pump, one of Dianna’s bears, bubble gum, socks, school supplies and a Bible and I will never forget the way his eyes lit up and he smiled and he grabbed my hands and said ‘thank you; thank you.’ To be able to bring that kind of joy and hope in the name of Christ by simply packing a box is the most rewarding thing I can ever do.”
The shoe box packing effort, requiring months of organization and preparation, is expected to bless over 9 million children this year suffering the effects of natural disaster, disease, war, terrorism, famine, and poverty. In 2012, Operation Christmas Child anticipates reaching a milestone by collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993. Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten. For many of these children, the shoe box will be the first gift they have ever received.
For more information, or to have White speak at your church or group, or to order free materials about Operation Christmas Child, call 573-480-3176 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.