Serving With Teens: Operation Christmas Child


Serving at the Operation Christmas Child processing center with a group of 10 teens last week was such a joy!

Long ago, when I did some student teaching in a middle school setting I swore I would NEVER enjoy working with teenagers! Funny how God laughs when we make plans, because I'm thoroughly enjoying these young people and the unique gifts they have to offer. 

Students from our Classical Conversations Challenge community volunteered for a three hour shift at the Atlanta processing center. We met for dinner first and then made the hour long journey to the processing center. 

I had already met with the kids a few days before during their community day to tell them what our experience would be like. I also tried to share with them a little about my journey to Ecuador to deliver boxes last December. 

Confession: I have been a bit sad this year because I would so LOVE to be delivering boxes again. I understand, however, that many people must be afforded that opportunity so the word about OCC can be spread far and wide. God laid it on my heart to work HERE (in my own little mission field) to spread the word about packing boxes and to work with the teens in our community volunteering for this ministry.

*This post contains affiliate links.

The Operation Christmas Child Processing Center

Ten teens and five aduts volunteered. 

We all had different jobs, from box inspectors - to scanners - to carton packers. 

After a short training we headed out to the warehouse floor, where we learned at the end of our shift that 84,000 boxes had been processed that day ALONE in Atlanta! 

In the above collage you will see my husband (scanner for the evening!), and right below him, our wonderful Challenge B tutor! Learning and serving alongside our children is a precious gift homeschooling allows us to enjoy often. I'm so pleased my husband was in town and could volunteer with us! 

Precious Operation Christmas Child Boxes

You learn a lot about packing a shoebox when you volunteer in the processing center. 

Some boxes that come through are AMAZING, and some are seemingly sparse. I know, however, that God has a plan for each and every box. I saw it in Ecuador, and I've heard countless stories that demonstrate God's providence through shoe boxes. 

Five Things I Learned About Packing Operation Christmas Child Boxes:

1. Always pack SOMETHING TO LOVE - no matter the age!  Yes, even the 10-14 year old boys will appreciate a stuffed animal! We spied one box with a sweet baby doll stuffed right on top - I can just imagine the joy it will bring some child this season. 

2. You can always put more in your box than you think! - Hard candy makes a great filler -- Smarties, bubblegum, lollipops - it doesn't have to be a lot - just fill up those spaces!

3. Sturdy, plastic shoe boxes are GREAT -- just don't use the ones from the Dollar Store because they crack easily. I processed a few heavy plastic boxes that were stuffed to the brim with wonderful things. 

4. Always include a personal note! It's such an easy thing to do -- even if it's just signing your name on the lid of the box. You never know when you will receive a note back from a child that has received your box! 

5. Don't forget the older boys! We processed so few boxes for boys ages 10-14. I know it's tough to think of things to put in them, but do some research about that age and make it your mission to pack at least one box for that age group next year! 

If you are interested in a great read for yourself, or need a good Christmas gift for someone, might I recommend A Story of Simple Gifts? This book is wonderful -- and has so many stories that will simply amaze you! 

This service experience has inspired me to seek more opportunities for our teens to volunteer together. So, I'm curious... what kind of service projects have you done with your teens?  I need ideas!   

Let's see -- in other Collage Friday news -- this week was a blur. My husband was traveling and we had last days of Classical Conversations, Advent dinners, basketball practices, piano practices, and much more. 

Tomorrow we celebrate Grant's TENTH BIRTHDAY!  This is also children's choir concert weekend for Anna, which means three concerts and a very tired girl by the end of it all!


Link up with Collage Friday and join this wonderful community of homeschooling moms that faithfully support each other week in and week out. What a blessing you all are to me - and to each other! 

Join me for Collage Friday!

Add your link using the widget below. Additionally, if you'd like to join further, use the hashtag #collagefriday on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.