Not too long after my twins died, I stumbled upon a blog post (sorry I don’t remember whose) about shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. My original idea was to pack 4 boxes, one in honor of each child. I wrote little notes for children who would get the boxes.
But I had left over items so I bought a few more and packed a few more shoe boxes. Then, I started going on e.bay and other websites trying to get super bargains on toys as well as scouring the stores for clearance items. It was just as easy to buy 20 toothbrushes as it was to buy 1 or 2.
This project took on a life of it’s own and I couldn’t seem to stop. I just kept buying and at some point I started throwing bags in the closets. I spent days during Easter break and summer break packing boxes and trying to make an end.
I thought about each child as I packed the box whether it was a teenaged girl or a small boy about the age of my Greyson. I wanted to make sure each box had exactly the right items. During this time I also bought a lot of junk for myself which I did not need. I developed quite a shopping problem there for a while.
People might think this was a good thing I’ve done. These boxes will go to children who have nearly nothing. While, of course, this is good for the children, I consider it embarrassing. A total loss of control and common sense. I was so lost in grieving my children, I used the shopping, spending and packing as what distraction I could and it got the best of me. I desperately wanted to mother and this was a way I could mother, if only in the remotest of ways. I felt more and more insane the more I bought and the more I packed. Finally, midsummer, I was able to pack the last box and stash it away. I forced myself to stop buying junk for kids and I had to be quite stern with myself at times.
It’s been approaching the time to send the boxes off on the first leg of their long journeys. I’ve been pulling boxes out of closets for weeks. It took me a long time to sort them and make sure each one had a tag. The whole process made me anxious. I guess I didn’t really want to give them up but it was time…what choice did I have. One just can’t have a stash of 67 shoe boxes full of toys, school supplies, clothes and hygiene items for needy children laying around.
I dreaded giving up the boxes and I looked forward to it. I didn’t like thinking about the pain and lost feelings that had caused this project but I liked thinking about the children getting presents. On a whim, I asked my friend to come with me. My car was stuffed full, for a while I thought I was going to have to borrow a bigger one:
I was glad to have JS there with me. It seemed less crazy with her there asking questions and being excited for all the children. It was a little easier to let go of what I’d been working so hard on for so long with someone to talk to about it.
I felt a little bit of warm sadness dropping them off at a local church which packs them in cartons and loads a truck to send to the processing center. The people there were very kind. As soon as I pulled up a guy helped guide me in backing up to the doors and then about 5 people ran out to help carry them in.
One young man talked to us for quite awhile about Operation Christmas Child and the distribution trip he had gone on. I asked him quite a few questions. They had collected over 3,000 boxes and were expecting a lot more from other churches serving as relay centers.
If JS hadn’t been there, I probably would have been very upset and crying. Although packing the boxes brought a modicum of healing and I know it will help a lot of children, I’m still not exactly “happy” that I did all this. It’s very hard to explain. I know I will never embark on this kind of project again. I might pack a few shoe boxes in the future but if I don’t, I figure I’ve done my share for my lifetime.