Friday, August 29, 2014

Invest in a shoe box, invest in a life

Liberty student helps deliver boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Jami Macdonald said she took ownership of her faith after seeing a seven-year-old girl in El Salvador with nothing receive the toy she had always wanted.

Seeing the joy firsthand — Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse hand-delivers shoe-box-sized gifts each year to children around the world. Photo provided

Thanks to the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child ministry, children around the world are able to have life-changing experiences just like the little seven-year -old girl who opened up her Operation Christmas Child box to find a furry, red Tickle-Me-Elmo monster staring back at her.

“I went to El Salvador in December 2006 to hand out these (Operation Christmas Child) boxes to children, and by the end of the trip I just knew something big had changed inside me,” Macdonald said.“My faith became mine, and it overwhelmed me.”

Macdonald was saved at the age of 13 and said she had always grown up in a Christian home. However, she took ownership of her faith when she was faced with the reality of children in need.

“I went from a life about Christ, to a life in Christ,” Macdonald said.

According to Macdonald, her family has been actively involved with filling Operation Christmas Child boxes for as long as she can remember, to the point where her family would collect items year round in preparation for the holiday season.

“I remember wanting to go somewhere on a missions trip really badly, and when I found out that the Samaritan’s Purse did what are called ‘Spy Trips,’ where 100 people go to personally deliver the Operation Christmas Child boxes, I knew this was for me,” Macdonald said.

On this particular trip, Macdonald said that the people were split into groups of 10 to go each day and deliver the boxes to different distribution centers and that each member of the team got to hand deliver the box they specifically made to whatever child they wanted.

“I gave my box to a 12-year-old girl named Areseli whose father had recently passed away and whose mother left her and her two siblings during the middle of the night,” Macdonald said. “Areseli’s aunt had taken the children in, and when I gave my gift to Areseli she was very reserved. I could tell she was forced to grow up too fast.”

Macdonald said that T-shirts and shoes are high priority items, as some children walk the streets naked and barefoot. She encourages Liberty University students especially to invest in a shoe box, as she believes investing in a shoe box is investing in a life.

“Going to El Salvador to hand out boxes completely changed my life. Now, when I see boxes that have not been taken by students, I see them as children who will not be getting a Christmas,” Macdonald said.

Senior Casey Ballard enjoys filling Operation Christmas Child boxes as she said it gives her great joy to know she is making a difference in a child’s life.

“I love being able to think I am giving a child a gift. Obviously Christmas is not just about presents, but it is important to make these kids who are less fortunate feel the love of Christ through our actions,” Ballard said.

Macdonald hopes that Liberty University will start an Operation Christmas Child team next year so that even more children can be reached.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child, or to show interest in being part of the possible Operation Christmas Child team, contact Jami Macdonald at jlmacdonald2@liberty.edu.

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