When I was at school there used to be an annual project where each pupil would fill a shoe box with presents to send to a child in poverty. I used to love collecting the items, and have also done the ‘Christmas shoe box’ several other years since leaving school.
I have always tried to tailor it a little as I am not a Christian (I’d put messages like ‘Yuletide Greetings’ or ‘Seasonal Greetings’, instead of ‘Happy Christmas’ or religious messages), though it is only this year -as I have been researching the different charities that have this campaign- that I realised most/all the charities doing a Christmas present appeal are in fact religious organisations that simultaneously promote the Bible/God/Jesus/Christianity.
Realising this I decided I did not want my shoe box of presents to go to a child that would not usually celebrate Christmas: I don’t mind if it goes to someone who is already Christian and/or celebrates Christmas, but I don’t really want to support an organisation trying to convert non-Christians in an country or region where there is perhaps a different dominant religion.
After some research, I found the best option for me (given my personal opinions and values about Christmas, Christianity and religion) was to leave my shoe box of presents under the ‘Kmart Wishing Tree’ in the Kmart on the other side of town. The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal works with the Salvation Army to distribute donated gifts to children (and adults) in need, and -from what I understand- they distribute the gifts within the country of collection (my main reason for choosing this charity; as most of the recipients will already celebrate Christmas).
In my shoe box of presents I put a set of colouring pencils, pencils that write in rainbow colours, a sharpener, multi-coloured writing pens, notepads, an exercise book, stickers, bubbles, fruit bars, a mini first aid kit, and a few other small items. I hope it reaches someone who will find the gifts useful and who’s Christmas will be a little bit brighter as a result.
There are lots of organisations that do Christmas box/present appeals. The one I used this year was: http://www.wishingtree.kmart.com.au
The one we used in school was: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child