Spirit of giving lit for holidays
Kaci Bowman had her eyes opened in Mongolia.
As a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child, Bowman, 16, of Norwood, traveled to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, earlier this year to distribute shoe boxes put together in the U.S. to give to children of third-world countries.
The shoes boxes contained relatively inexpensive and seemingly mundane things such as hard candy, soap, and school supplies. But there was nothing mundane about the reaction Bowman saw in the eyes of the children.
“They were so excited,” Bowman said. “They weren’t allowed to open it until every child received one, but every once in a while, you’d see a child peek into the box. It was stuff to us that would be nothing. To them, for some of them, it was the first gift they had ever received.”
Operation Christmas Child is just one of numerous ways local residents can charitably give this holiday season. The collection of shoe boxes nationally runs all week with local drop-off points in the area.
Bowman saw what it means to a child to receive something, anything, really, even if it’s from a stranger.
She took 100 pencils overseas as an extra gift, and she was told a child can’t attend school without a pencil.
“It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” she said.
Information on how to put together a shoe box is available at http://www.samaritanspurse.org. The website also has information about how to track a donated box until it gets in the hand of a little boy or girl.
Cost to ship a box is $7.
In terms of the best items to give a child, Bowman said it really doesn’t matter because every child is different. Some loved jump ropes. Some loved their stuffed animals. Some children couldn’t wait to eat their candy.
As part of the shoe boxes, volunteers with Operation Christmas Child also share Jesus Christ’s love with the children, Bowman said.
In addition to Operation Christmas Child, the coming week also is the first for Salvation Army’s traditional kettle bell collection in the Grand Valley. Also, the Alternative Christmas Fair is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Park Barn.
The Alternative Christmas Fair is a chance for people to purchase items others can use locally such as a dental visit to Marillac Clinic, or items used globally such as installing fresh water wells in Sudan.
For more information, visit gvpeacejustice.org/upcoming-events/alternative-christmas-fair.