Well, it’s hard to believe, but the leaves have turned color once again, it gets darker earlier, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. A big part of our family’s Thanksgiving memories is NFC’s annual Bauman service, complete with cider and donuts and photo ops (Oh, my!) Additionally, we love the collection of Shoebox gifts! It has been our privilege and joy to secure each one that is brought to the service with a couple of rubber bands, stack them all in our van, and transport them to the nearest drop-off location.
We’ve been packing these boxes as a family for 14 years now, and as our family has grown and changed, so have our methods. Early on, when the kids were small, I would collect the items, and then Todd and I would pack all of them, with minimal “help” from the kids (I think you know what I mean). As they grew, they would pack along with us and help us wrap the boxes and lids and stick the labels on. The last couple of years, we’ve all gone shopping together—each with a set dollar amount to spend. It’s been really fun to watch the kids be so thoughtful and purposeful about what they choose for their individual boxes and to trust that God has the exact recipient in mind for each one. We bring home all the bounty, and then begins the packing/repacking process, each shoebox filled to the brim! Memories have been made, inside jokes have been born—it’s the beginning of the Christmas season for us, and we love it.
Similarly, we as a church have been packing and sending Shoebox gifts for 13 years. Wow! Just as our family has had its seasons, so have we as a church. We’ve seen years when individuals have been invited to bring gifts and years when various Sunday school classes filled boxes together; more recently our congregation joined George Fox University for their packing parties. This year we are once again returning to donations of individual boxes and will be collecting them at the Bauman service next weekend. I love the idea of a personalized and unique gift for each child, some simple hygiene items, school supplies, toys, candy, and whatever else you feel moved to include. I’d also like to stress that every effort is made to preserve the integrity of these gifts at the processing centers; they are checked to ensure there are no liquids or other “do not send” items (click here for the list). A copy of “The Greatest Gift” in the child’s language is added, and then they are sent along just as you have packed them—off to bring a smile to a child’s face.
I hope you will consider packing a box (or boxes) this year, and continue (or begin!) your own Thanksgiving tradition. I am confident you will be glad you did.
(Remember to include a $7 per box donation for shipping costs. If packing multiple boxes, you can combine costs in one check.)