One of our greatest hopes as parents is that our three children will be givers. We want our children to really and truly understand that everything we have has been given to us by God and that our role is to be conduits of His blessings to others. Whether we have little or an abundance, the more we open our hands and hearts to others and give generously, the more we’re blessed in return.
We’ve talked about this a lot in our home and have sought to model a giving and serving lifestyle to our children. However, when children are young, it’s hard to know how much is really sinking in. But in the past two months, I discovered maybe they were picking up more than I realized…
We were riding in the van together one day in October and Kathrynne (6) said out-of-the-blue, “Mom, I’d really like to do Operation Christmas Child boxes.”
It was already something I was hoping we could do again this year, so I said, “Sure, honey, we can definitely do that. Did you have anything specific in mind?”
“Well,” she said, “I was thinking I could take my money that I’ve been saving all year to pay for them.”
I sat up in my seat and looked back into her eyes. She was completely serious about this.
And then she said, “I’d like to do 10 boxes. Five for girls and five for boys.”
At this point, my husband and I both had tears in our eyes.
You see, Kathrynne had been saving all year for a large-ticket item. She’d done a lot of chores to earn the money, and, after tithing, we’d let her set aside the rest for this item she’d been wanting to buy.
We knew she almost had enough money to pay for this item and she’d been eagerly talking about buying it and using it. And yet, here she was saying she wanted to use almost all of her hard-earned and carefully-saved money to pay to fill 10 Operation Christmas Child boxes.
Over the course of the next week, she planned out what she wanted to buy, she shopped for the items, and paid for everything with her own money. Then she wrote cards to all of the children, helped pack the boxes, and took them to the drop-off point.
As a parent, I couldn’t have been prouder of my child. And by the smile on her face and the excitement about the whole thing, I knew it was so much more fulfilling to her than buying something for herself ever would have been.
But I was more than just proud. I was deeply touched and challenged to examine my own heart and attitude toward giving. I realized that while I love to give to others, often, I’ll give from my abundance, instead of giving in a way that costs me something near and dear.
Kathrynne didn’t give from her abundance: she gave up buying something she had long waited for and long wanted so she could help children who have little or nothing. It meant she didn’t get to buy something she’d looked forward to owning for months, but she was okay with that, because she knew there were others who needed the money more than she needed a new toy.
Instead of me teaching my daughter about giving, she’s the one teaching me through her example. And I’m left inspired and motivated to give generously–without worrying about what it will mean I have to give up in return.
That’s awesome, and it really is what Christmas is supposed to be about! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I love hearing stories like this. It gives us hope in this sometimes messed up world.
What a wonderful story!! So proud of your family! I pray we can all give just as your daughter has. God bless you all during this Christmas season and always! Thank you!
Cilicia Phillips says
Reminds me so much of Luke 21
1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
LOVE this! Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring. That’s so awesome!
Another reader in tears reading this beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. So many lessons to learn from little ones. I also do Operation Christmas Child here in the UK and truly hope that my 19-month-old will one day have a giving spirit like your daughter’s. Blessings to you all xx
Michelle Haviland says
And that is the spirit of Christ. Utterly selfless giving.
God bless you, Kathrynne and to her parents, I can only say – “Yes”.
Blessings to you, all of you.
Alissa DeLucio says
That gave me chills (good kind of course!). Thank you for sharing. It is nice to see good news compared to those we hear in the news. Shame we can’t get them to share your story around the world… or can we? Hmmmm.
Thank you for posting this. These are the things we need to hear about this time of year!!
Wow. Many tears:).
What a wonderful little girl and an awesome Mama!!!!
This brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful little girl! God bless her and all of you!!!
Rhonda R. says
Came back & read it again. Teared up again! Amazing story. Truly in the spirit of Christmas.
What a God moment! I love it Crystal!
Thanks for sharing.
WOW! Beautiful story…what a wonderful little girl you have! I hope my almost 2 year old turns out to be as good-hearted:)
My 4 year old niece is old enough this year that I thought she would understand the concept of building a box for a little girl her age. I told her about the program and that we would go buy a shoe box (I always get the plastic ones so that they can reuse them) and fill it with useful and fun things for the little girl.
I explained to her that there are some children whose parents don’t have enough money to buy them a Christmas present because they don’t even have enough money for food. She is very tender hearted so this upset her a little bit and she continued to ask me questions. Does the little girl have a dog? No, she probably doesn’t have a dog because they can’t afford food for a dog. Does the little girl have a bed? No, probably not in the way that you have a nice big bed with warm covers all for yourself. What does the little girl eat? Well, she probably doesn’t eat the same types of food that you eat but it depends on where she lives. Does she go to school? No, not the type of school that you would go to, if she even goes to school at all.
She sat in the backseat for a few minutes thinking to herself and said “Aunt Jen it doesn’t sound like this little girl has hardly anything.” I said “I know baby but this little girl has God and He is looking out for her because children are so, so special to God and we are going to get her a present.”
It was at that moment that it really sank in to my niece that what we were doing was going to make a difference in the little girl’s life. She got so excited! We went skipping (literally she loves to skip!) into WalMart and looked and looked and looked for a plastic shoebox. She wanted to make sure that the little girl got a beautiful one so she picked out a pretty light blue box and asked if I thought the little girl would like it.
We went to the checkout and she proudly handed the shoebox to the cashier along with the money that I had given her to pay for it. When the cashier bagged it up she handed it to my niece along with the change and receipt.
We then went skipping next door to the Dollar Tree where we poured over the selection of items and put great care into picking things that she thought the little girl would like. She was especially happy to find a pretty purple washcloth that was very soft. We bought some suckers for the little girl and hopped that maybe she would share one with her best friend or a sibling.
All the time that we were shopping I made comments here and there about why we were doing this and why it is so important to give to others. At the checkout the cashier asked if we would like to donate a toy to operation homefront (for military families with deployed parents) and I asked my niece what she thought.
She said “Yes, Aunt Jen! It makes God happy when we help other people.” My eyes filled with tears and the cashier smiled. My niece told her what we were doing and as the cashier handed my niece the receipt she whispered good job auntie.
We went back to her grandparent’s house and carefully arranged all of the items. She drew a picture for the little girl and wrote Merry Christmas God loves you!
We said a prayer for the little girl, put the label with the barcode on and put a big rubber band around the outside. She took it to church with her the next morning to turn in. My in-laws (her grandparents) said that she marched into church with a huge grin on her face to turn in her box.
I will never forget that afternoon spent with her.
Amy Zuck says
I bet she will never forget it either…….
She’s amazing Crystal!
But I know for sure that it stems from the teaching of her wonderful parents. Way to go Jessie n Crystal! Awesome!!!!!
Angela Barnes says
What a great girl you are raising. Beautiful story and act!
My mom had an old poem that hung on our wall as a child, Children Learn What they Live. Your lives are blessings to others. Merry Christmas.
( : GOD IS GREAT ( :
Kelly Hess says
Brought tears to my eyes, if only the adults in this world were as generous as her!
DigiMom @ DigiCrumbs says
Simply beautiful! Thanks for sharing. So many lessons to learn from little ones. 🙂
Heather N says
What a blessing she is to this world!!! You should be one proud mama.
Audrey @ Mom Drop Box says
Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.
Tears for me too. Good job, Mama:) What a generous girl!
Very inspiring story. Your daughter has a huge heart!
Floppy Elephant says
Pleeeeeeease tell me that Santa will give her that item she saved for with a little note that his records show that her “niceness” spiked extremely high in December and he’s so proud of her. We all are!
Rhonda R. says
Oh my, that brought tears to my eyes. She is truly something special.
for of such is the kingdom of God. thanks for sharing.
A Peculiar Treasure says
Loved this story! Reminds me of a song my girls love to sing..”Some give of their abundance and some sacrifically. Let us give with a heart of thanks for the goodness we receive. We cast our bread upon the water and watch our blessings come to shore. We may not have very much to give, but we give it all to the Lord…”
How touching and very inspiring.. A little girl with a “very big heart”. She will surely be blessed and your family. God will give her more that she deserves. God Bless You 🙂
This brought me to tears. What a big heart your little lady has! You and your husband have clearly done a wonderful job so far showing your children what is important in life and I can only imagine how happy you must be!!
“I realized that while I love to give to others, often, I’ll give from my abundance, instead of giving in a way that costs me something near and dear.”
The above sentence was something that I needed to hear. My family and I have very little so I will usually only give what I have extra of or an excess amount which of course is great and makes me feel amazing but I am sure that there is always something MORE that I can give that someone else may need more. Thank you to you and your daughter for that reminder!
Bravo Momma! Gotta love it when God gives you that little reassurance that you’re doing something right.
Carolynn @ mylittlebitoflife.com says
Amazingly wonderful! I hope my kids will catch on soon! 🙂
I’m struggling a little with this. We have a goal that is saving up for a down payment on a bigger home, but yet, I feel torn because there are so many out there who would love to live in our current home. We are still living frugally and really struggling with wanting to give more. I feel selfish sometimes.
coupon woman says
What an amazing girl! Probably because she learned from such a generous mother & father as examples! I agree with the comment above that I hope Santa brings her what she was saving for! 🙂
This is just beautiful Crystal. Thanks for sharing your sweet family and life with us. Such a blessing. God’s got big plans for your precious one!
Great post!! We’ve been reading Christmas Around the World and learning about how Christmas is celebrated in different countries. We just found out the countries where children received our shoe boxes (very cool!). We’re planning to learn about those countries soon and we’ll also know that the children in those countries got to celebrate a special Christmas thanks to a shoe box. (If you click on my name, I added a link to my new blog for more about our homeschool adventure.)
Oh yeah—Our boxes went to Iraq and Lesotho.
Maria Price says
I’m crying reading this. I have a 6 year old daughter who did Operation Christmas Child boxes too. I was so proud of her. Way to go Crystal!
Truly, truly touching! Kids usually “get it” better than we adults!
I do the same thing…I like to give, but I give from my abundance. I’m not sure it really “costs” me. It’s always good to give, but I can see my own selfishness sometimes.
Bridgette @ Blessings Multiplied says
What a wonderful encouragement to see her heart open to giving so generously to others. Makes your heart just want to burst with joy when these moments happen in the lives of our children! 🙂
I often wonder the same thing with our girls. Our words AND actions speak volumes into their lives. It is moments like these that shows us that they really do get it. Our girls took their spending money and bought items for their Operation Christmas Child boxes as well. It was precious seeing them hand pick the perfect items for their child and pray that the toys, crafts, and other fun items would be a perfect blessing to the child who would receive.
Yes, as parents we are to be examples to our children but when you see a child demonstrate such a beautiful quality it really does make you think about your life and actions. I love your phrase “I realized that while I love to give to others, often, I’ll give from my abundance, instead of giving in a way that costs me something near and dear.” Good idea to re-evaluate our own hearts regarding giving.
I attend Bible college in Louisville, KY where I met my friend Timur. He was an orphan over in the middle east and he repented of his sin and accepted Christ as his Savior by reading the gospel tracts that came in the Operation Christmas Child boxes. He was later on adopted by missionaries there, and now attends school, hoping to go on into the ministry, to share the good new of the gospel with others!
Amy Zuck says
Wow! That’s great! It’s also nice to actually “see” the good OCC does : )
Tanya - Lilyofthevalley says
That was beautiful! Hard to believe yur oldest is 6 already!! 🙂 It has been a while since I visited your blog.
Michelle M says
Wow! Your daughter is truly inspirational! Thank you for sharing! Sniffle Sniffle!
Kathrynne has grown into a beautiful kind big girl. You are such an inspiration to so many, but first a wonderful wife and mother and this is proof.
I love this. The kids can so generous. My own kids spontaneously filled a donation cup for injured birds or prey from their allowance money, and I was so amazed!
I’ve been trying to teach my son about giving, also, but I think boys are difficult to judge. Today, he & I were coming out of Wal-Mart when we passed the Salvation Army bucket. My son asked me, “What is that, Mommy?” I explained that people put money in there this time of year so that others that dont have food or toys can have something at Christmas.” My 5 year old boy stops, looks me in the eye and asks, “Mommy, do we have any money? I want to help others have toys, too.”
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!
Staci Michalicek says
What an inspiration! Hug that little lady for me, please! I’m reading this to my children right now!
Awesome! Great job Kathrynne!
God bless your wonderful daughter!! She is only 6 and has a servant’s heart. She learns so much from watching you – you are such a good role model for her and it shows in this example of her giving. Thank you for sharing – what a legacy to leave your children!!
Kristi B. says
Your post really touched my heart. What an inspiration you are as a mother- because she surely learned this from your generous example. From the mouth of babes…we learn many things!
Thank you for sharing, that is beautiful and I know God will really bless her for her giving, too. I know we don’t give just to get a blessing from God but I do believe that “the generous man will be blessed and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
Beautiful! You and your husband have done a wonderful job of parenting this precious girl. What a gift she has given us all with her giving. God Bless you all.
what a beautiful story. thank you for sharing.
Amy Barclay says
Kids are awesome. My daughter who is 6 also, surprised me last year, by emptying her piggy bank and putting $55 worth of quarters in the Salvation Army bucket last Christmas…
A very beautiful story..Blessings
Heather R. says
What a beautiful post – thank you for sharing (although it needed a “may make you cry” disclaimer at the beginning – I am at work and read this 🙂 ).
This brought tears to my eyes. What an example she is!
stacey @ www.gettingthroughtheday.com says
I told my 5-year-old daughter this story and showed her Kathrynne’s picture. I love showing her someone close to her age who gave up so much to give to others. Thanks for sharing this!
Amy Zuck says
Thanks for sharing! I’m going to call my 5yr old son over here now so he can hear the story! : )
Thank-you for sharing with us! What a blessing!
This is what CHRISTmas is all about!
Totally teared-up! Just beautiful!
” and the little children shall lead.”
Good job Kathrynne, you have shown a lot of adults what true giving really is. God shall reward you abundantly, just as you have given.
Britni @ Our Eventual Homestead says
This is such an amazing story! I have so much to learn about giving because I too give from abundance and not so much from sacrifice. You are raising beautiful and amazing children!!
Thank you for sharing this with us! I bought some blocks a few months ago that say “Live Simply, Give More, Expect Less” and it has been a great reminder for me.
Wow, how wonderful to see your teaching efforts reflected in the acts of your children. Congratulations!
My 2nd daughter is such a giver too. It always warms my heart how she earns something she has worked for and instead of getting something for herself she gets something for someone else. I pray I can learn to love others for through giving.
What a great story and what a wonderful little girl you have!
My children are blessed with family who share hand-me-downs with them on a regular basis, so we recently donated several of their winter coats to our local coat drive. I was surprised and proud to see how excited they were at the thought of sharing with others. I so love the Christmas box idea and I think we may try to work on that throughout the next year for next Christmas!
Melissa Turpin says
Thank you for sharing that story. Praise God that he is still working and moving in people’s lives (even “little people”). Merry Christmas!
You did a great job raising that girl. Good job, mama!
What a great story. I love this post.
Kathrynne has a huge heart full of graciousness and love. I am so proud of her! This is the first year we are doing Operation Christmas Child boxes. The story of your daughter is a true testament to the meaning of the season!
Kim N. says
Thank you so much for sharing this! I love how God speaks through our children to us. Way to go Kathrynne! And way to go Mom and Dad!!!
Beautiful. It always feels good to know when our children are picking up on the right things that are truly important. Merry christmas
Melissa Belle says
Aside from all the frugal teaching, looking like you need to do a few segments on parenting, as you’re doing a wonderful job!
thank you so much for sharing this story! You have taught your daughter well, and set such a great example! This story has touched me and has reminded me also not to just give in “abundance” but sometimes it does mean more to give when you can’t necessarily afford it, or wouldn’t want to give up something. Those children are really going to be blessed through your daughter. I hope one day I am able to instill these qualities in my own child. Thank you so much again for sharing, and for everything you do at Money Saving Mom!
God bless your family and have a spectacular Christmas!!!!
What a great kid.
Nicole @ saveliveeatlove says
Amazing. You must feel so blessed.
Ginger M. says
Beautiful, wonderful. What a lovely little family you have, Crystal. I think of you often when I want to buy stuff on the fly that is not in “the plan.” I strive to be a better woman, homemaker, giver, and saver because of you.
I completely know what you mean! Our children teach us so much!
Our family had been working through a 31 days of giving calendar in order to ‘raise’ money to buy a cow from the Gifts of Compassion catalog. We were about $20 short and my daughter handed me her $25 birthday check she had just received from her grandparents. She told me there wasn’t really anything she needed anyway and this would be a way to help out.
What a blessing!
Debi B says
I LOVED THIS!!!!!! Please check your email Crystal. 🙂
Precious! It brought tears to my eyes also. I pray that my husband and I set this example to our children. Thanks for sharing!
God says, He uses the little children! That He did! My husband and I just read the book, “Radical”, by David Platt and that has inspired us to look at what we do and give as well. So we are starting our 2012 in that spirit with ourselves and our two sons 6 years and 2 years.
Jackie Yard says
I have chills after reading this. What an awesome job you have done raising your children! You are very blessed to have such a beautiful family.
Oh, lovely! If you are reading Kisses from Katie AND witnessing this goodness in your daughter, you are probably just a bucket o’tears these days. 🙂
Amazing! we started doing the RAOK (Random Acts of Kindness) and my kids literally can’t wait to get up in the morning to do it. It’s so wonderful to see that giving heart. Your daughter is modeling that behavior because she sees you and your hubby doing it and seeing it through the Lord’s anointing of giving in your life. Kudos to you!
I hope that you’ll bless her with a wonderful Christmas gift that she’s been saving up for!
not only has you and your husband gave the world your love , you now have passed along the giving to your daughter..God is Great and you have bestowed that in your teaching..thanks from the bottom of my heart for a good cry and a happy heart 🙂
siobhan @moneydearest says
I hope she gets what she was saving for this year for Christmas! She most certainly deserves it
So awesome! What a sweet heart she has! May she never lose it! Maybe she’ll get her desired item for Christmas? 🙂
I was thinking the same thing!!!!!!
Me four! Let’s hear it for Santa Claus, who knows when you’ve been nice.
Marie Riley says
I don’t even know her personally, and I want to buy her whatever she wanted! Great job Crystal!
What a precious story! It brought tears to my eyes too! It reminded me of what Jesus said about the widow’s mite – she gave all she had instead of giving from her abundance. A great lesson for all of us!
This is a beautiful story, and truly embodies the spirit of Christmas. I have 2 girls, and the oldest just turned 4. I’m trying to instill in them that Christmas isn’t just about Santa, and getting gifts…that the true meaning is giving to others. I wasn’t sure if this was getting across to her, but hearing your story, I now know that even if I don’t think she understands quite yet…she gets more than I give her credit for. Thank you for sharing this story, and for putting the Christmas spirit into my heart.
Jeanie Eyraud says
what an angel!
Alli Harden says
This is just so…inspirational…emotional…beautiful. I think we can learn a lot from our children.
Thank you for sharing this Crystal. My son is three and sometimes I wonder if he’s really getting it. Especially when the “I want” temper tantrums begin. This post definitely gives me hope and helps me to breathe 🙂 Thank you.
Wow! Great post! Inspiring little girl! Good reminder! Thank you!
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. It is a great testimony to you as a mother that you have nurtured such a giving spirit. Operation Christmas Child is great! We live in NC not far from the warehouse. Our youth group went this past Saturday to help inspect and process boxes. They get such a blessing from that and it is amazing to see the millions of boxes in the warehouse at one time on their way to other children.
Tressa Hammond says
Priceless, on so many levels! But most importantly eternally! Thank you for this kick in the pants to model and train and teach my three girls about selfless giving!
I’m in tears, too! Amazing little girl you are raising….
Tsh @ Simple Mom says
Beautifully written, Crystal, and beautiful heart, Kathrynne.
Chrystal @ Sea of Savings says
This is a beautiful post Crystal 🙂 Our daughter is an only child and is very blessed with what she has, we are doing our best to teach her about giving and those less fortunate. I can only hope she does this one day. Thank you for sharing.
What a wonderful young lady you have! She should be so proud of herself!
WOW! That brought tears to my eyes too! 🙂
Such a precious child! Thanks for sharing this, Crystal. It makes a HUGE difference to me
Thanks for posting that, melted my heart.
Jen K. says
What a sweet child! How precious is that?!?
Wow!!! What an inspiration!! Thank you – and please say Thank you and God Bless to your daughter! Merry Christmas!
I am so happy to hear about a child wanting to make boxes. My best friend and I work all year long on making boxes. You might want to do that with your daughter. When you buy stuff on clearance all year you can make even more boxes 🙂 My friend and I made 163 boxes this year. Thank God for good parents like you who will teach their children to be selfless and caring to others like the Lord cares for us.
163 boxes!!! God bless you, that is wonderful!
So how did you raise the $7 you have to put in each box? That’s $1,000 for that many boxes.
We have a special collection at our church that we call Christmas in July. We ask people especially those who do not pack boxes or don’t wish to do the shopping to “sponsor” our boxes. Every year we have been able to raise the funds for our boxes. Our church is rather small so every year I am amazed how the Lord provides the shipping. Every year we trust Him as we always exceed our goal. The past 2 years I have received letters back from pastors/missionaries/parents. I encourage everyone to pack at least a couple boxes and always include a picture and a letter.
Awesome! We filled 6 boxes and included a little note. I didn’t have pictures of my children to include. The six boxes was as much as we could do with our budget.
Awesome! Do you have a local drop off for the boxes? Or do you ship them? How much is it to ship? I would love to do this also.
Alissa DeLucio says
Operation Christmas usually asks for roughly $7 per box to help cover shipping costs. Boxes are found at Chic-fil-A in November and at churches. Anyone else have other places to mention you can get boxes from? Maybe other restaurants or retailers participate that I don’t know about yet.
You can also pick up boxes at Family Christian Bookstores.
You can actually even fill any old shoebox & wrap it with just a label on it (boy/girl & age). I have found the Operation Christmas Child website to be quite helpful in locatging drop off spots. In my area the YMCA is a drop off site.
Wow, that made ME cry and it’s not even my kid. 🙂 What a sweet spirit she has! And, like you, I think we give out of our abundance. We still have everything we need and a lot of what we want. Are we really sacrificing? I don’t know, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. What a wonderful lesson Kathrynne has for us.
Ginny @ Organizing Homelife says
Wow. It is evident that God is working in her life and that is so exciting! Thanks for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes. *^_^*
Great job mothering and setting an example for her!
They start teaching us at an extremely young age. Adults sometimes miss these lessons just by simply being to busy to listen or slow down to truly hear. I remember when my oldest was not quite 3 and taught me almost as valuable a lesson as your 6 year old taught you hear.
If the adults listen the children have much to say and much to teach!
WOW! This brought tears to my eyes too! What a great example to follow! God bless you, Kathrynne!
That was beautiful! My five year old is doing the same for me–she recently said to me, “Mom, we should give to others things that we really want ourselves…so, don’t you think that we should be homeless so that we can give our house to someone who needs one?” I am so thankful for the role my children play in my sanctification.
And THAT’S a merry Christmas.
Beautiful ,made me teary eyed, thanks for sharing!
same here! What a wonderful story.
It is things like this that show us we are doing something right as parents! God Bless that baby.
Heather B. says
This is such a touching and inspiring story! Your sweet little girl did end up giving from her abundance, it’s all a matter of point of view – she does have food, clothing, and shelter, and all her basic needs are met. You should be kind on yourself, kids learn from what we teach them, and there is no doubt in my mind that she learned charity from you and your husband 🙂
I agree completely Estelle!
Yes! Something tells me mommy and daddy’s example has cultivated such a generous heart. What a challenge to myself also!
Katrina Page says
Now I’m crying! 🙂 That’s precious!
Me too! Instant tears before the second paragraph… what a beautiful daughter you have, good job! 🙂
Me too. My kids (little boys) are looking at me like “What’ going on with Mommy?” LOL Seriously though, thank you for sharing this story. I too share your hope for my children, though have yet to see that kind of fruit. Lovely, beautiful story.