Are you looking for a way to give back this holiday season? It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what we are going to get everyone for Christmas and stress over holiday events. All of that can deter us from the real reason for the holidays and the spirit of giving, I know I’m definitely guilty!
One way I love giving back is by packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. It’s a project by Samaritan’s Purse that is so dear to my heart that delivers shoe boxes full of gifts to children all over the world. It is a way to minister to children about the love of Jesus in parts of the world where they are affected by natural disasters, wars, famine, poverty, etc. No, they don’t force religion to these children, but simply help spread love to these children who don’t have the same kinds of comforts many of us do have. Each box can be filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, clothes, games, stuffed animals, coloring books, and anything else a child may need.
Ok, I’m officially a mess haha! I cry every time I watch that!
First things first! Before you pack your shoe box, pick a box. My church hands out cardboard boxes made by this organization, but you can use any shoebox you want. I will show you pictures of both. Next, find out what gender and age group you would like pack for. The age groups are 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. This year, I did four boxes total: two boys & two girls and 5-9 & 10-14 for each gender (I will tell you where to get the labels at the end) Next is the fun part: shopping!
Believe it or not, all of these items together were barely over $100. That’s for four kids!! I understand that may not be in the budget for everyone, but if it is I highly encourage you to take part even if it’s just making one box!
HOW TO KEEP THE EXPENSES DOWN
A few tips at keeping expenses down is hit the dollar store up first! I bought everything but the backpacks (which were on sale for $5! I wish they had other colors, but I couldn’t pass it up!), candy, underwear, socks, and crayons from the dollar store. The prices definitely added up with the socks and underwear, but you don’t have to buy such big packs, or any at all if you don’t want to! My church makes a little baggie with one underwear and one pair of socks for each box. Also, if this is something you plan for ahead of time, definitely look out for sales. There are a lot of buy one get one free sales during back to school shopping!
HOW TO MAKE IT ALL FIT
When I saw the $5 backpacks I was determined to fit them in the shoeboxes for the 10-14 age group, so I used my shoeboxes from home for that age group and filled as much of the backpack I could and the rest went in the box. It is all a game of Tetris and trial and error. Notice, I rolled the coloring book with the composition notebook and rubber-banded them. I tried to lay them flat but they were too wide so it left a lot of empty space that couldn’t fit much of anything. For me empty space= something needs to go there haha! So instead of bagging the candy for the 5-9 group , I stuffed the candy in every empty space I could including inside the books rolled up. One more thing before I move on! If you unpack it and it saves space, do it! for the 5-9 boy I bought a set of cars but the packing was huge, so I took the cars out. I did the same with the underwear and socks. It doesn’t look as pretty, but my goal is to fit as much as I can in the box haha!
ADD A “WOW” ITEM
Like you may have noticed in the video, a lot of the kids showed excitement towards one particular item! For each box I added something a little extra that I can imagine them getting excited about aside from the necessities like school supplies and hygiene items. I am also going to show you what I put in each box for each gender/age group so you have an idea:
WHAT TO AVOID PUTTING IN THE BOX
I talked about what you can include in your box at the beginning, but there are a few things to avoid adding to the box. This includes damaged or used items, anything violent such as toy guns, military toys, etc (I even stood away from some of the popular superhero toys that are popular here in case they may be offensive in other countries). Also stay away from anything liquid, anything that can melt like chocolate, or anything that can break such as a snow globe. You can find more examples of what you can and cannot add in your box HERE.
I hope this helps give you a little bit of a background of a ministry that has been dear to my heart since I was a child. I also hope that some of you will take part in this great cause. I always believed giving is so much better than receiving and it goes such a long way! If you do decide to pack a shoe box you can look for a collection/drop off site HERE. The national collection week is November 14-21 so you still have a few days to pack your box if you haven’t already! One thing I forgot to mention is to rubber band the box closed and add an envelope with $7 for shipping if you have the boy/girl label already (I got mine from my church). You can also do this online which also allows you to print a shipping label with a tracking number so you can track your box and see what country it is going to. I prefer this option because it is so fun to know where your box ends up. If you don’t have a boy/girl label or want to track your box you can print that tracking label HERE.
If you want to get even more involved you can volunteer at a processing center and register HERE. I have done this before and it is so rewarding being a part of this process. It’s basically a warehouse with assembly lines of different tasks. For example one person checks the box to make sure there is no money inside, next person checks for hazardous items, then the next person adds items if there is more space, and the tasks go on until the box gets put into a shipping box. I would love to one day be able to deliver the boxes to the children. I don’t know how I would be able to handle that because I can hardly watch 30 seconds of the video without bawling my eyes out, but I will manage haha!!
This post is in no way sponsored or associated with Samaitan’s Purse or any of the brands noted above. All opinions are my own.
[Samaritan’s Purse Canada]. (2016, September 9). Operation Christmas Child Canada Main Promo Video 2016. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCiSpp9r_F0.