Jennifer Wood

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In 1995, I went on a mission trip to Russia, where I visited children’s hospitals and orphanages. I noticed how little the children had, and one orphan’s joy when I gave her my bracelet. It is from this experience where I draw my passion for packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

JenoccboxesTo pack as many shoeboxes as possible while staying in budget, I collect items all year round and am able to purchase items for up to 90% off. This way I am able to spend $3 to $7 on each box, while the items inside would normally cost $30-60. I’ve connected with many wonderful people online (Facebook – Clip With Purpose) and here at Bethel, especially at Serve Saturday last year.

While I include a personal letter and a picture with every shoebox, I know that many of these children will be unable to afford the postage to send a letter back.  This last year, I was privileged to receive three letters back from Zambia, which is where many of Bethel’s shoeboxes were delivered.

Two letters were from children at the Kakhoma Basic School in Chavuma, North Western Zambia. This town is in a very remote area of Zambia where it is a 10 hour drive to the nearest city to buy supplies. This school has the second highest ratio of students to teachers (91:1) and has no electricity. Some children spend over an hour walking to school. Even with these challenges, children at schools like this one still score above average compared to the urban schools.

While researching about my shoebox recipients, I found the following in an article:

Bishop Nelly Chikwanda, National Leadership Team Coordinator for Zambia, shared the importance of receiving school supplies in the shoe boxes, “You are preserving their lives. One pencil in a shoe box can literally make the difference if that child attends school or not.”

Bishop Nelly added, “Preserving one child is preserving a nation. You have never been (to Zambia) but your box, your effort, your love has been there.” Chikwanda asks that each Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift include a note encouraging kids to continue in school. Many families in Zambia and the other 100 countries Operation Christmas Child reaches have to choose between food or school supplies.

OCCVanpicIf you would like to help out, consider packing a shoe box (or several) this year!