August might seem a little early to think about Christmas, but for Operation Christmas Child shoebox enthusiasts, it's a great time to stock up on school supplies, Dara Brensing, Operation Christmas Child Regional Manager, said.
Operation Christmas Child is an international organization. Shoeboxes filled with school supplies and toys and then delivered to needy children in 110 countries around the world.
Having a pencil can mean the difference between going to school or not for a child in a third world country Brensing said. If the child does not have his or her own supplies, they can't attend school.
"And school supplies are so cheap right now," Brensing said. "You pack more shoeboxes or get more in the shoeboxes."
Packing shoeboxes becomes a habit for many, Brensing said.
"People become addicted to filling shoeboxes year round."
Brensing has overseen five states for Operation Christmas Child, including Oklahoma, for 10 years. She describes Oklahomans as "very generous." The whole state sent 60,687 shoeboxes in 2012, she said. Chickasha donated over a thousand.
"Chickasha donated 1,290 shoeboxes in 2012." Last year, the organization sent a total of nine million shoeboxes.
And while it would seem like this would be enough for every child, Brensing said that there is always a need for more shoeboxes.
The living conditions in third world countries, Brensing said, are pretty bleak. Brensing has been to Uganda, where people live in huts without windows.
In spite of these conditions, Brensing said the mothers take a great amount of pride in making the sure the children are well scrubbed and dressed as best as they can be with what they have.
She said she has seen women with a child strapped to her chest, her back and watching after another while plowing a field, a field where she works, not a family owned field.