It’s been an exciting week at our house as my kids have been filling their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes!
Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project, brings joy and hope to needy children around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love. Since 1993, more than 86 million shoe box gifts have been delivered to children in more than 130 countries. Boxes are filled by individuals, families, groups and churches and sent to children-in-need in the United States and throughout the world.
Each of my older three kids filled a box this year. Audrey chose a teenage girl, since she heard older children don’t have as many boxes to go around (isn’t she so thoughtful? Everyone should have a seven-year-old girl in their home.).
The boys filled a box for a boy their age (4 and 5).
One boy, who may or may not have been wearing a shirt, was sent to bed for a nap after pitching a big ole’ fit about not being able to keep the Matchbox cars purchased for his four-year-old boy. He was allowed to come out of confinement once he had a better attitude and proceeded to be an absolutely delightful shoe-box-filler.
It was 60 degrees in our house at the time. Maybe he has invisible fur that keeps him warm?
They all had a great time selecting which stickers their child would enjoy and what free-after-coupon toothbrush would be most appreciated.
There is still plenty of time for your family to pack a shoebox! All you need is an empty shoebox (or a plastic shoebox-sized container) and about $15. It does help if you have extra school supplies, toiletries and perhaps small toys in your stockpile. You can find a complete list of what you can and cannot give here.
Here’s an example of what we included in some of our boxes this year:
:: Clothing — gloves, a shirt, underwear, socks, hat (we select general sizes. If the item does not fit the child, it will certainly be useful to someone in his or her family.)
:: Toiletries — bar soap*, toothbrush*, floss*, washcloth, comb/brush, hair clips, hair ties*, plastic cup
:: Toys — slinky, balls, flashlights w/ batteries, baby dolls, Matchbox cars*, yo-yo, stuffed animals, jacks, playing cards*
:: School Supplies — notebook*, pencils*, colored pencils*, pencil sharpeners*, scissors*, stickers, solar calculators, crayons*
:: Candy — double-bagged hard candy, gum*
*Items from my stockpile-o-deals. We purchased everything else from Walmart or the Dollar Tree.
When appropriate, we remove the items from their packaging to create more room. We also bag up underwear, socks and items that may melt (candy, crayons). The ziploc bags themselves might even end up being useful to a child’s family.
Tip: The best price per unit for underwear and socks are to buy the larger packs at Walmart or Target. Every year, I purchase one or two packs, use 4-5 pairs for this year’s boxes, then put the rest in a special “Operation Christmas Child” box that is stored in my desk. I also stash little toys, free or clearanced shirts and other inexpensive items I pick up throughout the year. When the time comes to fill our shoe boxes in the fall, we start by shopping from the storage box. This keeps our out-of-pocket cost very low and we’re still able to cram those boxes full of goodness!
The super-dooper cool thing is this year is you can track your shoebox! Just make your $7 shipping donation at Samaritan’s Purse’s website (instead of putting the cash or check inside the box), print the label and attach it to each of your boxes. You will receive an e-mail telling you the destination of your shoe box, along with information about Operation Christmas Child in that country. If your boxes go to more than one country, you will receive more than one e-mail.
I can’t wait to find out where our family’s boxes end up this year. Not only will it be a great geography lesson, we will feel more connected to the children that receive our boxes which will encourage us to pray for them.
Shoe boxes must be dropped-off by Sunday, November 20. Go here for a list of Oregon & SW Washington drop-off locations.