Last month my wife Carolyn and I had the privilege of volunteering for a few hours at an organization known as Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, NC. 

We helped process donated shoeboxes full of toys games, and various items to be shipped to needy children the world over. 

This yearly project, “Operation Christmas Child,” is supported by thousands of Christian churches nationwide, with close to a million boxes being distributed. 

For many of these kids, this will be the only Christmas gift they receive. From what we learned through video and personal testimony, this small gift’s potential impact on a child can be life changing. 

One of our process managers, Alex from Uganda, was a man in his early 30s whose life had been transformed by receiving one of those boxes 20 years ago. He told us, it was this box  — this small gesture of love - that was the catalyst that inspired him to seek ways to better his life. And he has. 

Our group of 20 was assigned tasks ranging from inspecting boxes for appropriateness to the final phase of binding and taping for shipment. Ours (hundreds of them) were headed off to Botswana, a country in south central Africa I’d vaguely heard of. 

Being the first to open each box for inspection, I was naturally curious to see what donors had packed. Most times it was something like a small stuffed animal or nice puzzle or doll along with coloring books, crayons, play dough, flip flops, balls, pencils, T-shirts, plastic tools... you name it. Simple stuff really. 

I got to thinking about the orientation video we saw and how absolutely thrilled the children were to receive such a gift. Yet, in my hands and in my eyes, it all seemed so meager and insignificant. 

I began to feel the collective pang of guilt of how materialistic our own society has become. You know what I mean.  

That being said, one could tell that the boxes were prepared by loving, caring, selfness hands and hearts. The majority of our boxes came from Tennessee and Indiana, and a number of them contained a handwritten note of Christmas greeting. 

One box in particular had an outlined handprint of a 10-year-old girl named Christiana drawn on the inside lid. She wrote to the recipient: “Place your own hand on the outline where mine was and let’s pray for each other. Let’s ask for God’s blessings to allow His Light to shine through us both.” 

How touching that was! I couldn’t help but tear up when I saw the care and unselfishness of young people like Christiana being expressed toward someone in a faraway land they will never know. 

I had to step away from my station from time to time, to compose myself, as I contemplated this demonstration of generosity.

Jesus’ words in Mathew 25 came to mind: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” 

Exactly what these givers were doing.  I was deeply honored to play a very small part in doing this good thing.

Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at chas234@windstream.net.