A Giving Heart

November 13, 2011 • United States

A 5-year-old boy celebrates his birthday by packing shoe box gifts for Operation Christmas Child

A 5-year-old boy celebrates his birthday by packing shoe box gifts for Operation Christmas Child

Jackson Sober celebrated his fifth birthday in October. He had the usual party with cake, friends, and gifts. But the gifts weren’t for him.

Jackson wanted to help other boys and girls across the world, so he asked his party guests to bring gifts to pack in shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

When Jackson approached his mother, Kathy, with the idea, she immediately started to help him plan. The Sober family has been packing shoe boxes for 14 years, since their oldest daughter was 3.

“We always say, ‘That would be a cool idea,’ but I don’t know if people really act on what God puts in their hearts,” Kathy said.

Learn more about Operation Christmas Child.

Kathy encouraged Jackson as much as she could. He originally said he wanted to pack 1 million boxes, but he later agreed to the more attainable goal of 100. They sent out invitations to friends and family for a party at the park pavilion in Covington, Louisiana. Jackson invited all of the preschoolers at his school, and he spoke to the girls at his sister’s school about helping him.

But a week before the party, Kathy had to have emergency surgery. While she was supposed to be planning a huge party, she had to lie in bed and recover. Then, the night before the event, the house where the volleyball players at Jackson’s sister’s school were having a sleepover caught on fire. None of the girls were able to help Jackson as they had originally planned.

The day of the party, about 70 people showed up. They packed approximately 45 boxes, less than half of the goal.

But somehow people Kathy didn’t know had heard about Jackson’s quest. One woman drove from Mississippi to bring some gifts to pack in boxes. Others donated school supplies and boxes.

A couple of weekends later, Jackson’s parents and his five siblings hosted another packing party in their house to use the remaining supplies. By the end of the day, they had 112 shoe boxes.

Kathy loaded all the boxes into her father’s truck and drove them from Louisiana to the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in North Carolina. They took a tour of the warehouse so that Jackson could see where the boxes go after they leave his hands. Kathy also showed him Operation Christmas Child videos so he could understand better how he is impacting other children around the world.

“I think that it’s a rarity to have kids who are born with compassion and a truly giving spirit,” Kathy said. “I feel like it’s definitely a gift that God gave him.”

Jackson has already said he wants to have another packing party for his birthday again next year. Kathy hopes to start planning sooner so that more people can attend.

“I hope every year it gets bigger and bigger, and by the end he will have packed one million boxes,” she said.