Christmas Shoebox Projects


Christmas is coming up and more and more organizations will urge you to prepare a Christmas shoe box for a child, who otherwise wouldn’t have a Christmas gift. My family has participated every year for the past 8, and we were delighted to know some child received a neatly wrapped gift for Christmas/Chanukah.

Then we realized one year that the destination locations for the organization’s shoeboxes were Mongolia, Malaysia, two areas in India, Tajikistan and Kosovo. You know what’s common in these countries? They are non-Christian majority, and most of the children do not celebrate Christmas, because they celebrate the holidays of their own religion! The statement of the organization was true: they were distributing gifts to kids who otherwise wouldn’t get a Christmas gift…because they simply don’t observe Christmas! However, children received a pamphlet with/in their gifts to promote Christianity, and many also got to sit through a sermon on the plan of salvation. These children were evangelized without the consent of their parents, and gift givers were also not alerted of the evangelization nature of the project. And don’t you think it happens abroad only: religious minority groups are targeted domestically as well.

If you shrug thinking it was still something nice done for those children, just think how you would feel if an Islamic organization handed out shoeboxed for Eid, with proselytizing pamphlets looking to convert your children without your consent? What would you feel like if the Scientologists did the same (and you might want to check with your kids’ school whether they carry any literature or drog prevention programs or learning enhancement programs with one of the many Scientologist organisations, like Narconon)? How would you react to a shoebox on Purim, with a pamphlet pointing out why you go to hell if you believe in the deity of Christ?

There are many alternatives to Operation Christmas Child and other, unethically proselytizing organizations. Some of those are Christian organizations, who believe that they let their actions and love for the least of these reflect the message of their saviour rather than a pamphlet. There are local organizations that work in your own community, and those might be the best. There are organizations  who don’t call their missionary efforts charity work, but really do charity work–and call their missionary work just that: missionary work.

Please double check the programs and the intent of the organization you choose to align yourself with: willingly supporting unethical organizations does distort participants’ ethical view.

9 Responses to “Christmas Shoebox Projects”

  1. Ciska says:

    It doesn’t really suprise me. Several years ago, I wrote:
    “During the years I spend in the evangelical church, there was a really big focus on converting people. As in really big. You might say there’s nothing wrong with that, and I would agree, if only they would also put as much emphasis on the most important commandment the Lord gave us: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbour as yourself.” The part of loving God was a given, and of course they said it was important to love your neighbours, but every single act of outreach I saw was accompanied by an attempt to convert. Converting was the goal. Not loving. That’s my big problem with the evangelical church.”
    This story just seems to validate that. However, if you look on their website, you can see all the places they deliver boxes and it seems that the countries where they don’t deliver (and they’re sparse) are those countries that are most secularised or most islamic.

    • Hevel @KosherKola says:

      Islamic countries no longer allow Samaritan’s Purse. Secularised countries usually do not have the easily accessible, unsupervised child masses. Also, there has been a very active campaign against their practices in the UK and most of the Central European countries since 2007ish. OCC is just one example of the many organizations operating on the same principle.

      In Hungary, for example, Catholic Caritas, the Baptist Charity and Wesleyans all had shoebox projects… all within region or for children already in countries where Christmas was in some way celebrated… none had tracts. I think it’s charity in it’s essence: giving joy with no strings attached.

  2. De says:

    Good information. I have just recently had a discussion with someone who was boycotting some company and telling me I should do the same. I asked them if they are aware of the religious/political beliefs of every company that they purchase from. It is eye opening to know that with our purchases we end up supporting many things that were they spelled out individually, would not be to our liking. I do agree with you that giving should be done freely with no strings.


    • Hevel @KosherKola says:

      I have a few companies on my not-to-do business with. I am not nearly as informed on all companies as some people, but there are some things that I find highly unethical, and refuse to be involved with. Mostly charities that should be super ethical, IMHO. RR and The Samaritan’s Purse are high on my list.

  3. Andi says:

    Miért derül ki minden szimpatikus kezdeményezésről egy idő után, hogy valami hátsó szándék, valami trükk van benne?!
    Lassan ott járok, hogy bármit hallok, egyből azt keresem, mi lehet mögötte?!
    És közben mélységesen elszégyellem magam, hogy milyen rosszindulatú vagyok, hogy egyből a rosszat feltételezem, de utólag az élet sokszor engem igazol.
    És az a leggusztustalanabb, ha betegekről, gyerekekről, vagy jótékonysági megmozdulásról van szó, és ez van szép selyempapírba csomagolva, hogy ne lássuk az igazi szándékot.

  4. jen says:

    I’m a fan of the Heifer Project (http://heifer.org).

  5. r. says:

    Completely agree. Also, glad to see your website is back up.


    P.S.- I think there’s a typo in the second paragraph: “These children were evangelized with the consent of their parents”


  1. Operation “Christmas” Child??? « KosherKola - […] It’s time for my annual post about shoeboxes and religion. […]

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