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Friday, November 22, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

Did y’all know that it is ‘Shoebox Collection Week’ for Operation Christmas Child?  You can STILL pack and turn in your shoeboxes filled with goodies for a impoverished child until Monday, November 25th. 

Honey and I have packed shoeboxes for at least 13 years and have loved this ministry.  Operation Christmas Child is a branch of Samaritan’s Purse ministry founded by Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham.  My sweet cousin and her husband have worked for Samaritan’s Purse in North Carolina and have shared heart-warming stories about the glee and happiness that the shoeboxes bring the children who receive your lovingly-filled shoeboxes.  Most of these children would not otherwise receive a Christmas gift and many have never received a gift from anyone.

Packing Shoeboxes

I try to buy things on sale after the back to school rush to keep costs down so that we can pack as many boxes that I can and stay in the budget.  I also grab some of the hotel included bar soaps and save the dental samples to include in boxes.  (See Honey, I do try!)  We head to the dollar store for the other needed items.  This year I printed off the list of gift suggestions from Operation Christmas Child and gave a copy to each of my children.  The Baby can only read about 18 sight words but I don’t want to leave her out.  With lists in hand, we headed to the local dollar store to buy gifts for these special children. 

What do you need to pack a shoebox? 

It’s simple.  You need a shoebox (or plastic box with lid).  You can wrap the box (wrap top separately) but wrapping isn’t required at all.  Decide whether your gift will be for a boy or girl and the age range (2-4, 5-9 & 10-14).  We usually pack 2 girl boxes and 2 boy boxes so that each of my children can pack a box for a child their age and gender.  Next, fill the box with goodies! 

What should you put in your shoebox?

Toys - Include items that the child would immediately embrace such as a doll, toy truck or stuffed animal.  Other fun toy suggestions are kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls & toys that light up. 

School Supplies - Pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring books, etc. 

Hygiene Items - Toothbrush, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag) (*I often use fund Mickey head soaps from Disney.), comb, washcloth, etc.

Accessories - T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights.  (The girls and I also usually make sweet little purses for the girls boxes as well.)

A personal note - You can include a note to the child and family photo.  I have each of my children write a note and try to make this a family event.  I also include a family Christmas card photo from the previous year because I always have extras and it saves a trip to the store for photos. 

What not to include - Used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out of date candy; liquids or lotions; medicines or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans. 

After you packed your shoebox, go online here and pay $7 per box to help cover shipping and other costs related to delivering the shoeboxes.  You can write a check but we LOVE keeping up with where our boxes are delivered.  In the past several years, our shoeboxes have been delivered to children in South Africa, Congo, and the Dominican Republic.

Four of the packed shoeboxes
Last, find a drop off location near where you live and drop off you gift filled box.  You can look up local drop off locations HERE.

There are so many things that I love about this ministry and I hope to someday go on a distribution trip.  Receiving a shoebox shows these precious children that someone across the world loves them and cares about them.  I love that the process teaches my own children how fortunate and blessed they are and how important it is to give to others who are less fortunate.  I love how making these boxes connects my children to other children all over the world.  My children get so excited when we receive that email  that tells us where our boxes have been delivered.  I use that time as a learning opportunity to teach the children about the country and how children live in that part of the world. 

How sweet is this?
You have until Monday November 25th to drop off your gift filled boxes.  You will not regret including your sweet littles in this process and you absolutely can do it within a budget.  You have all weekend too.  :)


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