It was a few weeks before Christmas. Life was busy for Reverend Mary. Lots of preparations for nativity services, carol practices, school end of term fêtes. The list of ‘to dos’ was endless. Mary even wondered how she was going to have time to go present-shopping for her own family.
Because the rush was almost incessant, Mary knew she had to pause.
But this wasn’t just to catch her own breath. Mary needed to reflect on what Christmas means – at a very personal level. Without those moments of stillness Mary knew she’d never be able give with love and kindness and all that she wanted to offer.
“It’s people’s basic, physical needs that reach out to me that I want to help meet.”
That’s why, every year, Mary quietly, kindly, donates to Operation Christmas Love. She wants to meet people’s needs in a simple, practical way – and these boxes stuffed full of essential food give her the opportunity to do that.
Small Acts of Kindness Can Make A Big Difference To Other People’s Christmas
Set up by UK charity Mission Without Borders (MWB), Operation Christmas Love does just what it says: It’s a Christmas gift programme that gives emergency food and shares the Christmas message of love and hope.
“I’m fortunate that I can look back over 70 years of Christmases with family and having very happy times. If I think about a Christmas hamper, I think about all the goodies we have – Christmas pudding, mince pies and so forth. But when I hear about people with little, I want to help meet their needs. To show kindness, especially at Christmas, is powerful.”
The power of Mary’s act has repercussions across Europe: It brought about real change for Luidmila, who lives in Moldova. Even though they’re thousands of miles apart, Mary’s simple act of kindness to buy a box of basics offered the exceptional for Luidmila – the feeling of being loved and included.
“We experienced a miracle of kindness last Christmas. Life is harsh and we feel forgotten. Then your help, care and love came from nowhere. We were so happy to receive your gift – it’s the difference between having my name on the debtors’ lists, or experiencing the true meaning of Christmas.”
Never before had Liudmila had enough food to cook a proper Christmas meal. Living in an extremely deprived part of rural Moldova, her family struggles to make ends meet. Christmas for Luidmila is a time of anxiety and worry, she feels alone, forgotten and unloved.
Liudmila has six children for whom she longs to provide a real Christmas and have the pleasure of making a festive meal for her family. Instead, she searches the woods for dry branches because she can’t afford to buy firewood and heat her home. Her children wear shoes barely held together, their clothes are worn and not suitable for the extreme Moldovan winter. Basic essentials like cooking oil, sugar and flour are a luxury; she doesn’t ever consider the possibility of being able to have items like shampoo or washing powder.
It was the week before Christmas when the miracle happened. Luidmila said:
“I had just run out of oil, when you visited with your gift. Now I have oil, as well as sugar, rice, pasta, flour, tea and oatmeal!”
“These gifts are so much more than the food we need: You are treating us like friends. We cannot believe that we are loved.”
A local representative from MWB had just given Luidmila an Operation Christmas Love box stuffed full of food. For Luidmila this was a gift of practical kindness.
It was with tears of joy that Luidmila and her children unpacked enough gifts of food to last all winter. Suddenly, the family had a feast before them: Now their Christmas was going to be filled with good food, celebration and joy.
But it was more than that. Mary’s kindness meant Luidmila’s family was now part of Mary’s family. They shared Christmas together.
“It’s the message of Christmas,” explains Mary.
“I was bought up in a Christian home believing that Christ has come to bring life and light and joy and peace. I’m so grateful and I want others to know it too – I want to share this message of Christmas. So giving to Operation Christmas Love is just one small act of kindness that welcomes a vulnerable family to share what Christmas means to me.”