Sandra Dunham

Every year I curse at the radio when I hear the frequent ads for Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a program of Samaritan’s Purse. This year, I heard an interview with a Samaritan’s Purse representative on our national broadcaster, CBC. I find it unfathomable that CBC would give airtime to this charity. Why my intense reaction?

First, it is an obvious ploy to purchase religious conversion with baubles. Samaritan’s Purse’s tag line “Helping in Jesus’ name” pretty much says it all. Next, the assertion is absurd that packing a shoebox with trinkets will help tremendously, when what these children need is a world free of war, poverty, and despair.

Consider the description of how to pack a shoebox. So simple and yet so frustrating.

  1. Find a shoebox.
  2. Determine girl or boy. (Because that simple, binary observation will allow you to pick the perfect gift — dolls for girls and soccer balls for boys. Need I say more?)
  3. Fill it with gifts. Include “wow” toys like dolls, soccer balls, and stuffed animals. I wonder if the purchasers of these gifts ever look at where the “wow” was created? Are the children who will be receiving these gifts the very ones who produced them in sweat shops? Also include other fun toys. (Those of even less value than the “wow” toys?) More sweat shop labour, more landfill? Also add hygiene items and school supplies — while potentially beneficial, these are added to allow the packer to truly feel they are making a difference.
  4. Pray.  (I won’t even comment.)
  5. Make your minimum donation of $10 (so that you unknowingly begin to support this evangelical Christian charity).

Let me put this another way: This organization is using these shoeboxes to further their mission of converting people to Christianity. They are creating tremendous amounts of waste and polluting the world by shipping these disposable items back and forth across the ocean. I was unable to determine how children were selected to receive these “gifts.” And I was unable to find any evidence of these gifts making any difference in the world.

Samaritan’s Purse is preying on people’s desire to make a difference, by preying on their emotions. And then it demands a donation — to its evangelical mission. A donation, which costs every taxpayer in Canada money. (See our take on the Cost of Religion in Canada.)

Please consider this yourself. Then speak out against “causes” that hide a significant ulterior motive. For my part, I will send this article to the CBC radio show where I heard the interview and demand that they do better.