For several years now, our family has made it a tradition to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child—the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. The annual Samaritan’s Purse project is a favorite of many families, churches and groups who spread joy to millions of children around the world by filling shoeboxes with a “Wow” item—like a doll or soccer ball—other fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.
“Through the simple act of filling a shoebox, someone can make a tangible difference in the life of a child halfway around the world. Anyone can participate and bring joy to a child facing difficult circumstances,” said Randy Riddle, director of Operation Christmas Child in the United States.
We’ve found Operation Christmas Child to be a simple yet concrete way to involve our children in giving and sharing God’s love with others who are in need around the world. We picked up three empty shoeboxes from our church, which participates in the program each year. We fill these together as a family.
Our two oldest daughters also attended a Shoebox Packing Party at church, where they helped to fill additional shoeboxes that will be given on behalf of the church. Our children’s ministry leaders and volunteers made the Packing Party a really fun and festive event. They divided the children into groups and the groups took turns visiting stations scattered throughout the church where they completed a fun activity and added different types of items to their shoeboxes. They also prayed for all the children who will receive gifts as part of Operation Christmas Child this year.
When we set out to pack our own shoeboxes at home, our daughters decided they would designate their boxes for girls – one in the 2-4 age group and the other two in the 5-9 age group. We first shopped for some basic hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs and soap. We added head bands and ponytail holders, then looked for school supplies and toys. We found crayons, pencils, notepads as well as small toys like puzzles and jump ropes at our local dollar store. All of the items in the cart below were purchased for around $26, or less than $10 per shoebox.
We haven’t added a “Wow” item yet and our girls want to write notes to the children who will receive their shoeboxes. So we’re still adding to the boxes, but here is a look at what we’ve packed so far.
During National Collection Week, Nov. 16 – 23, anyone can drop off a gift-filled shoebox to send to a child overseas. Residents around the country hope to contribute 8.6 million gift-filled shoeboxes to the 2015 global goal of reaching 11 million children in need. Collection locations can be found using the Zip Code locator at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.
Anyone can participate in Operation Christmas Child. You can even pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website. Go to samaritanspurse.org/occ to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox. These gifts of hope will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries.
Using special tracking technology, participants can follow their box to discover where in the world their gift is delivered by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
Happy shoebox packing everyone!
Do you pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child? What items do you pack in your shoebox? Leave a comment to tell us!