There ARE good people living among us!! I LOVED this!!!!
The gifts come postmarked from around the West, bound for desperate places around the world. But they stop here first, at a rented-out warehouse, for a little extra care.
They’re simple things – a pair of socks, a jump rope, a handful of peppermint candies – packed into shoeboxes and sent as Christmas gifts to children in some 100 countries. The workers in the Santa Ana warehouse will check, seal, box and ship more than half a million of those shoeboxes over the next several days.
Santa Ana is the West Coast hub of Operation Christmas Child, an annual gift drive described as the world’s largest Christmas project.
“We’re helping the people,” said Marcus Dukes, 51, a mover from Anaheim loading trucks at the warehouse. “Making someone else’s Christmas. Yeah, I like that. I love that.”
The people who send in their shoeboxes – and there are millions of them – are responding to the same the group makes every year: Go into your closet, dig out an old shoebox, and fill it with gifts that will “bring delight to a child.” The group expects to deliver around 8 million of those shoeboxes this year, working with local churches in the countries it serves.
The shoeboxes routed through the Santa Ana center come from as far away as Alaska and Montana. They’re going to such places as Indonesia, Mongolia, the Philippines and China.
But first, they pass through the hands of people like Debbie Aleksic, who’s been volunteering for Operation Christmas Child for a few years now. She’s 46 years old and came with her son David and her Niece Rachel to help.
She lifted the lid on each shoebox that came her way, checking for prohibited gifts. No shampoo or snow globes that could leak. No mirrors that could break. No money that could make a child a a target for thieves. No toy animals that could scare a child and no war toys.
Then, with a “skrrritch” of packing tape, she sealed the boxes and packed then in a cardboard box, destined for a child in some unknown place. “You don’t know who’s getting this box, but God knows,” she said as she worked. “It might go to… gosh, you don’t know. It’s just a blessing to see.”
It might go to someone like Livia Satterfield. She was 12 years old, hungry and neglected in a Romanian orphanage, when a woman brought her a shoebox for Christmas.
Among the gifts she found inside were her own soap, her own toothbrush and a box of hair clips. She was so excited about those clips that she put them all on at once.
She’s 22 now and lives in Georgia with the woman who delivered that shoebox and later returned to adopt her. She was in Santa Ana this week, packing shoeboxes.
“That simple gift just brought us alive, she said. “It was just something simple that meant a treasure to us.”