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The Gift of Individuality

Packing shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child helps a family share their passions with children in need

For Bryan Ledbetter, giving a gift can help him express his individuality just as much as doing tricks on his BMX bike does.

When he first started riding BMX, he never dreamed of the impact that it would have on his life. Years later, he now has a family and business of his own, and he performs Flatland BMX shows with the King BMX Stunt Team. The sport taught him motivation, determination, confidence, and self-sacrifice—all qualities that he hopes will be instilled in his three children.


One way that he and his wife, Ginine, teach their children about giving and self-sacrifice is through packing shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. They have been packing shoebox gifts as a family for about 10 years, since their son Miles was a baby. The gifts are sent by Samaritan’s Purse to children around the world who are in need.

Miles, Tessa, and Julian all love to put items that they enjoy in their boxes, said Ginine.

9-25-13-OCC-BMX-bike“If we’re at the store and the kids see something fun, they see something that they like, I hope that they say, ‘Hey, if I get one of these because I think it’s super cool, can we get an extra one and put it in the closet in the Operation Christmas Child storage bin?’” she said.

Once, Tessa picked out a doll that she wanted for herself, and decided to pack it in her shoebox. Miles packed a hat that matched one he picked up for himself on a family shopping trip.

“In that box, you can represent what you like, what you believe in, your passions,” Bryan said. “Operation Christmas Child is just really unique in the fact that you are putting some of yourself into a box, and it is getting delivered to a child.”

Whether it’s a box of crayons that inspires a child to become an artist, or a toy stethoscope that makes a child dream of becoming a doctor, “You never know what you put in that shoebox, how it could affect the child,” Bryan said. “Just put into that box what your passions are and maybe it will spark an idea for them that they can chase after for their lifetime.”

9-25-13-OCC-BMX-logoThe Ledbetters love the fact that shoeboxes are so simple to pack and send, but the boxes share more than just a few toys and other items with the children who receive them.

“That they discover the gift of Christ and what He did for us, that’s the ultimate goal,” Bryan said.

The Ledbetters were overjoyed recently when Miles decided that he wanted to follow Jesus.

“The same joy I have of seeing my kids come to Christ, I have in packing that shoebox and knowing that I’m planting a seed,” Bryan said. “And hopefully those kids will come to know Christ.”