Since the gift idea blog post, I’ve had some requests to show how those items fit inside the shoe box. While I can’t send every toy to each child, I squeeze as much as possible into each box, making use of every nook and cranny. It’s most important to send a fun “wow” item and school supplies, clothing and extra toys are secondary.
I ordered plastic shoe boxes from Samaritan’s Purse for a few reasons: They’re large (6 quart), sturdy and reusable. The children can use them to store their things long-term. Parents often use them for food storage in the home, to keep foods dry and pests out, or to hold washing water.
Here are some things I learned while packing the boxes:
Roll the clothes. I tried several different packing tricks but rolling made them the most compact. The boy’s socks are thick with larger cuffs, so I rolled each pair separately. When rolling socks, stagger them so that the cuffs aren’t lined up. The girl’s socks are thinner, so I rolled two pairs together.
Underwear: Folding and rubber banding the underwear together spares the recipient the potential embarrassment of opening underwear in front of their friends. That’s never gonna be a fun party game! I folded them so that the elastic waistband shows, and they’ll get an idea of what it is without removing the rubber bands.
Boys underwear: While I don’t regret buying the five pack of boxer briefs for $2, I’ll stick to only buying briefs in the future. They take up a lot less room than boxers.
This next point blew me away! It’s so important to remove the packaging. I decided to collect all of the paper and plastic trash in one bag, and see how much our boxes generated. WOW! Enough to overflow a laundry basket. When you think of sending all of this trash overseas, the decision to remove the packaging becomes very obvious.
I used my car packing method to pack the boxes in layers. Here’s what fit into the girl’s boxes.
Layer One: tiara headband
Layer Two: 20″ beach ball
Layer Three: pencil pouch with school supplies, comb, leggings, three pairs of underwear, pencil sharpener
Because we want to send as many gifts as possible, the pencil sharpener has three pencil cap erasers stuffed inside, along with two stretch headbands.
The pencil pouch contains: 6 pencils, 10 markers, 10 colored pencils, 1 highlighter, 2 large erasers and 1 pair of scissors
Layer Four: toothbrush, tee shirt, bag of jacks, toy turtle, toy fish, bar of soap, box of 24 crayons, smooshed Minnie, 2 glue sticks, 2 pairs of socks
Layer Five: washcloth
Layer Six: composition notebook
The lid snaps on flat (mostly!) and because the box is filled to the gills, I placed rubber bands around it. Godspeed to the fantastic volunteers in the processing center who have to unpack and re-pack these boxes to go through customs!
So, that’s what fits! I hope this post was helpful to you. If you have ideas to share about how to pack shoeboxes, please let me know in the comments. Click to learn more about Operation Christmas Child.
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