I believe that hope can come in small packages.
Recently, my youth group supported our troops overseas by making little Christmas boxes full of basic necessities: socks, deodorant, hard candy, and a bunch of other little tiny things that we take for granted every single day. Our whole church helped, each bringing in a shoebox full of supplies like this and as a youth group, we wrapped the Christmas boxes.
We were going to bring them down to Ft. Campbell which is a huge fort on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. One of our youth group’s leaders had been part of the army for a while and he was in charge of the trip. He was able to get us in to look at some of the places that the normal public couldn’t.
A lot of the youth group decided to go along to deliver the shoeboxes, where the people there were going to fly them directly to the troops who wouldn’t be home for Christmas. The drive was about nine hours long. It was a lot of fun going down there and when we finally arrived, we were all excited. We drove through all of the security. There was no shortage in that. Then we began to unload the boxes and bring them to the chaplain there. In total, there were around 175.
It didn’t take long, there were about a dozen and a half of us, plus several adults.
The whole time we were glad for the opportunity, but I don’t think that the whole thing became as real to us as when they showed us around.
They showed us plenty of helicopters of theirs and other things that the normal public wasn’t allowed to see. The more that they showed, the more real the people the shoeboxes who were going to seemed to be. Before, they had been real people, but I didn’t know them. I really knew nothing about them. They were real people who were fighting for our country, even through Christmas, but I didn’t know anything more than that.
As we met the people around that special part of the fort, the people who were getting the shoeboxes seemed all the more real to me as the rest of the youth group and I met the people that knew them so personally, who had fought along beside them.
None of that, though, made the people receiving them seem as real as the Wall. The Wall was a big chunk of stone that had names written on it – both front and back. The names were names of people that had died fighting for their country in this special operations unit, called the Night Stalkers. Then the shoeboxes became all the more real. Yes, they were little necessities that were helpful to the people there, but they were more than that. Much more. These were boxes of hope. Small packages of hope that we were giving to these soldiers who wouldn’t be with their families that Christmas because they were protecting us. They were fighting during Christmas, so that we could be safe.
I’ve been to Washington D.C. and seen the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I’ve seen the Vietnam Memorial. Those were real people who also had died for their country. But this memorial, the Wall, was a memorial remembering people that had died doing the duty that the people who were getting the shoeboxes were doing. This memorial had names written on it, but these names were personal. I had never known them and never would get a chance to, but their comrades would be getting a little tiny Christmas shoebox that I had been a part of.
Our youth group then took hands, forming a circle, and we began praying. Anyone that wanted to say a prayer could, and I was one of them.
I think we all had a special feeling the rest of the day. I know that I did. We had given hope. What better Christmas present was there than that?
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