Operation Christmas Child
Did you know that Oxfam estimates it would take just under £50 billion annually to end extreme world poverty. It's a number that feels so out of reach, however surprisingly its actually less than a 1/4 of the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
1/2 the worlds population live in extreme poverty and in 2011 165million children became physically and developmentally stunned by malnutrition.
Can you imagine even thinking about Christmas when you haven't eaten for days, when you have no access to water or your region has just been hit by a natural disaster or health epidemic.
At Christmas time these figures can feel even harder to digest. When we are able to live so safely it is at Christmas time that we are often even more desperate to reach out to whose with have so little.
How you do this can be even more confusing as poverty related charities are a crowded market.
However there is one charity that is almost unique. That works all year round preparing for one special time of year. That takes all the problems of poverty and reduces them down to the smile on a child's face. To bring simply and immediate joy to a child at a time of year that can be the most desperate for many.
Operation Christmas Child is run by the Samaritans purse. They are a non profit Christian organisation providing support and emergency relief to suffering people around the world. Since 1990 the Samaritans purse has delivered 146 million boxes to over 150 locations and on top of this each child that receives a box is invited to learn more about Jesus through a 12 lesson programs that includes Bible readings, games and activities. This year their target is to reach 12 million children.
As amazing as it is to give a gift to a child at Christmas it can feel like you are simply giving them some toys and keepsakes but your gifts give so much more.
For example even if children are able to go to school they would need to provide their own books, pencils and supplies. This isn't possible for some families making it even harder for children to access their education. Including pencils, notebooks and basic stationary in your box can actually be the difference between if that child goes to school or not.
And once all this is over and the toys have been played with and the sweets have been eaten your box will continue to have a lasting affect on that child. Many adults talk of the impact receiving a box had on them right in to adulthood.
Your box doesn't say here is some stuff. To a child it is an act of love. It tells them that the world sees them, and it cares about them.
If you would like more information about Operation Christmas Child and how to get involved or pack a shoebox you can contact me or visit their website at https://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/