Y’all, this is so fun! Operation Christmas Child shares the joy and promise of Christmas with children around the world, by distributing shoe boxes filled to the brim with gifts. For many of these children living in poverty, this is the first gift they receive. Some of these deliveries are made on camel back, loaded onto elephants, others strapped to motorcycles; but all are delivered with love.
In 2018, more than 10.6 million shoe boxes were collected for distribution to 112 countries and territories. That’s a whole lot of joy!
With just twelve weeks to go until national collection week, here are some fun ideas for shoe box packing:
One Wow Item: Dolls, stuffed animals and deflated soccer balls (with a pump) are all great. Mickey and Minnie are our “wow” items this year; boys get Mickey, and girls get Minnie. We folded them over, and placed rubber bands around them to make them as small as possible. The indignity! I tried using hair ties, but the fabric is too slick and they slid right off. Oh, well. The kids can have a humdinger of a rubber band fight!
Other Fun Stuff: Marbles, jacks, jump ropes, Matchbox cars, beach balls, sticky catch games, water bottles, playing cards, stickers, coloring books, journals and Lego kits are all fun additions to shoe box gifts. See Shanika and Sherika’s story below to learn why they were thrilled to get a set of jacks in their shoe boxes.
School supplies: In many areas around the world, school supplies are the ticket to education. Can you imagine not attending school simply because you don’t have paper or a pencil? One lady on a distribution trip reported that teachers break pencils into several pieces, so that more students can have one.
Something to Wear: Walmart and Kohls had great end-of-summer sales on kid’s clothing. The boys get tees and shorts, and I found tees, capri pants and dresses for the girls. Shoes and flip-flops are useful and appreciated.
We’ll KonMari the heck out of the clothing, and keep them folded during processing and shipment using rubber bands.
Personal Care Items: We’re packing for elementary age children this year, so a comb, washcloth, toothbrush with cover and a bar of soap will do the job. Just picture twelve children sharing a washcloth, or 25 children sharing a toothbrush. Such simple items can mean the world to a child in need.
Tuck a Christmas card, your picture and a note of encouragement into your shoe box. Let the child know that you love them, and are praying for them. Include your address if you like; sometimes the recipient or their parents will write to you!
Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned from the Shoebox Shoppers Facebook group:
- You do not have to use OCC boxes, although they’re nice! Any shoe box will do. Standard sizes are best because they can pack more into a carton when they are a uniform size. However, odd/larger size boxes will not be rejected.
- Remove all packaging material from the shoe box items. Most of the receiving countries do not have the resources to handle trash. The recipient will not think that your gift is used if it’s not in the manufacturer’s packaging.
- Fill the box to the brim. Don’t ship air!
- Boxes are inspected at 8 different processing centers around the U.S. The volunteers view each box as your unique gift to a child, and do not remove items unless they’re on the prohibited list. (Liquid, glass, seeds, war-related, etc.) They do not re-distribute gifts from one box to another. They will add to a box if needed, and keep small filler items on hand in case a box has extra room.
- Track your box online, but know that some boxes go to sensitive countries and you might not learn the final destination of your gift. Be sure to include $9 per box to cover the costs of shipping and transportation.
No time to pack a shoebox? You can quickly build one online here:
Here are some stories from shoe box recipients.
Shanika and Sherika’s Story:
TRIGGER WARNING (Abuse/Sexual Assault) Boun’s story is difficult to hear, but so important:
What a beautiful and simple way to bring the good news of Jesus to children around the world!
This post is not sponsored. I only endorse charities that I personally support, and I hope you will consider supporting them too.
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