100 Christmas Presents

by Laura Koenig

Presents, lights, trees and cookies—most kids can’t wait for Christmas to come.

Lydia W. can’t wait for Christmas to come for other kids. Last year, she celebrated the holiday by packing 100 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Lydia and Asa carrying presents

Lydia and Asa packed 100 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Gift of Jesus
When Lydia was 4, she and her mom packed two shoeboxes. Every year since then, the number of boxes has increased.

Last year, Lydia felt God leading her to make a goal of packing 100 shoeboxes!

But to give that many gifts, Lydia needed help. This 10-year-old came up with a lot of ideas to gather donations.

Since her birthday is close to Christmas, Lydia asked her friends to bring supplies for the shoeboxes instead of gifts for her. When guests walked into her “It’s a Small World” themed party (like the ride at Disney World), they brought lots of presents.

Lydia loved watching her friends sort their donations on the living room couch. By the end of the day, they had huge plastic tubs full of fun gifts for children around the world.

Her friends weren’t the only ones giving items. Lydia’s dentist heard about the project and donated toothbrushes and toothpaste. When her family visited Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs during the summer, she picked up 100 Clubhouse magazines to put in the boxes.

What Lydia couldn’t gather through donations, her family found on sale at different stores.

“I love to pack stuffed animals,” Lydia says. “I think every kid should have one.”

She also made projects on her own. Lydia sewed small pillows, made bracelets and created T-shirt crafts (like making skirts for the girls).

Out of all of the presents, Lydia had one special item that she put in every box: a picture of her and her 8-year-old brother, Asa. Then she wrote a card that said, “We packed this box so you would know about Jesus, the best gift of all!”

Lydia sorting gifts for Operation Christmas Child

Lydia sorts her donations.

Center of Giving
Lydia and Asa thought seriously about what items went into each box. After months and months of planning and packing, they finally filled the 100th box.

Then their mom had a surprise. She took the kids to the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center near their home in Georgia for a tour. Lydia had visited in previous years, but she still couldn’t believe how many boxes filled the distribution center. There seemed to be millions of them!

Lydia’s family found out their boxes could be going to Burkina Faso, where they sponsor children through Compassion International. It was exciting for them to discover their gift could travel to the country of children who they support and pray for.

Lydia imagined what the children might think when they opened a box.

“I think they would be happy and surprised,” she says.

She hopes they will have a smile on their faces and realize how much Jesus loves them.

Lydia with 100 packed shoeboxes

Happy to help

Best Gift
This year, Lydia won’t be tackling 100 boxes. Instead she wants to send specific gifts to the kids. She might create 30 sewing kits for girls or collect 30 soccer balls and pumps for boys.

Lydia’s heart for serving people and impacting kids around the world continues to grow. Because for her, Christmas isn’t about presents.

“We don’t just send the shoeboxes so kids will have a gift,” Lydia says. “We want them to know Jesus.”

Lydia’s “Must Have” List
Not sure what to put in your shoebox? Here is Lydia’s list of essentials items.
1. Soap
2. Washcloth
3. Brush/comb
4. Toothbrush and toothpaste
5. Crayons
6. Magazine
7. Notebook
8. Pencils and pencil sharpener
9. Socks
10. Stuffed animal

Lydia likes to pack a stuffed animal in every box

Lydia thinks every kid should have a stuffed animal.

Shoebox Advice
-- Personalize the box with a message and a picture of yourself. Give the child a face to look at and hold onto. Download a printable coloring page from SamaritansPurse.org to tell the child about yourself, like where you live and what you like to do.
-- Don’t pay full price for the items you want to put in the box. Look for sales and discounts to help you save money and pack more boxes.
-- Shop throughout the year. This will give you more time to find sales on the items you want. Shopping after the holidays can work really well.
-- Pray for the children who will receive your boxes. Ask the Lord to show them His love through these simple gifts.

National Collection Week is November 14-21. For more ideas and tips, go to the Operation Christmas Child website.

Copyright © 2016 by Focus on the Family. Photos courtesy of Lydia's family.