Every year children in Wales get into the Christmas spirit by filling shoe boxes for kids in need.
It is a lovely act that teaches young people about kindness and generosity.
However one of these schemes, Operation Christmas Child which is run by the charity Samaritan’s Purse, has caused a great deal of controversy.
This is a registered evangelical Christian charity with an income of over £15.9m. It’s one of the richest religious charities in the UK.
Critics of the charity say that it specifically targets Muslim children in poor countries in an attempt to indoctrinate them.
It also has a very controversial CEO called Reverend William Franklin Graham III.
The Samaritan’s Purse CEO spoke at President Trump’s inauguration and has been very outspoken on his views on homosexuality.
He has gone on record several times defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on homosexuality, and wrote an article where he praised him for “protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda”.
He has also said the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan “may be” the second coming and Armageddon.
On his Facebook page he has also said: “We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the US until this threat with Islam has been settled.
“Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalised and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War Two, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now?”
What are the alternatives?
Many parents are hesitant to stop their children taking part in the scheme because they don’t want them to miss out.
Luckily there are ethical alternative schemes out there that young people can take part in.
Some of these are secular and some are Christian – none attach strings to their gifts.
Link to Hope
This Christian charity says they “don’t place any literature in the boxes and promise not to discriminate in who the boxes are given to”.
They ask people to fill a Shoe box for a family and the elderly– not just a child. Their list contains items for all family members and includes items such a shower gel/shampoo, family games, stationary items, gift for mum and dad as well as sweets, soft toys, hats and scarves.
Their annual family shoe box appeal has been running since 1992 and has sent over 800,000 boxes to hundreds of different locations.
Link to Hope’s aim is to combat poverty and give humanitarian aid and has special concern for the most disadvantaged.
Teams4U is a charity set up by Dave Cooke, who has nearly 30 years experience working within international relief and development.
In 1990 Dave was moved by the needs of the Romanian children he saw on the TV screen so he put teams together and took aid to Romanian orphanages.
In 2006 Dave founded Teams4U to enable many others to be able to have the opportunity and experience of working with and supporting vulnerable children and their families.
It has since expanded in several different countries, supporting various different projects through partnerships with local individuals and organisations.
Unlike OCC, each box is an unconditional gift from one person to another, no strings attached.
You can even volunteer with them to give out the boxes.
The Aquabox scheme is a popular charity among humanist groups and many schools.
Welfare items from a recommended list are collected to fill a water treatment box, which costs £50.00.
This then becomes a useful kit that can be sent quickly to disaster areas. Each box is numbered and linked to the donor, so that you can find out where your box went.
This charity runs a parcel scheme targeted at women and children escaping domestic violence, including children’s parcels and emergency parcels to help people rebuild their lives.
Refuge parcels are virtual gifts that you can buy on behalf of your loved ones.
You can help save lives and build safe new futures for women and children escaping domestic violence.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Regarding CEO Franklin Graham, who recently preached to thousands at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Samaritan’s Purse is meeting the physical needs of those in need around the world. They receive assistance regardless of race, creed, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity.
“Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 gives us the example of helping others without any conditions or exceptions. Jesus helped others out of compassion and love and we seek to do the same.
“Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, attracts thousands of volunteers across the UK. With hundreds of thousand more packing shoebox gifts. These volunteers are the backbone of the organisation and it is because of them that we are able to bring joy to millions of children around the world.”