A New Tradition for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve

The Need is Great

In many, if not all, African Countries–and I imagine other poor countries, too, children often must sleep naked. Why? Because good mothers wash their children’s clothing to be fresh and dry in the morning and most children have only one set of clothing–if that. But in parts of Southern Africa, night-time and pre-dawn temperatures can be as low as the 40’s (Fahrenheit).

In the former Soviet Union, children in state orphanages may sleep on beds, but the mattresses may be filthy from years of children wetting the bed. They may have no sheets, no pillows and only a tiny blanket. They may also have to sleep in underwear or their day clothes.

Also in the former USSR countries, even children in loving, caring homes, may be forced to sleep in freezing cold apartments. Heat is a function of the government who owns the apartment buildings. International politics can mean heating oil supplies are shut off, as can foreign currency prices.


Photo: Operation Christmas Child/Samaritan’s Purse

A New Tradition

This year, why not start a new tradition. Start by wrapping some shoe boxes with Christmas paper (wrap the lid separately). Cut back your Christmas spending on your own family just a little and fill a few shoeboxes “ahead” for next year. Then when it’s hot and steamy in July, have Christmas again. Why two Christmases? You can save a ton of money, but do a really good deed!! Shop for cold weather clothing at Christmas mega-sales or after-Christmas clearance sales. Then in July do the same for hot weather clothes.

This month and next month, while you shop for stocking-stuffers for the children in your family, buy an extra for your shoebox(es). When you do back-to-school shopping and buy on-sale mega-packs of underwear and socks, take out a pair or two for your shoeboxes. With what your child already owns, they won’t be missed–but the children receiving them in a shoebox will be so happy to receive them. Signing the kids up for soccer? Pick up another ball while they’re cheap! Remember to buy a pump! See? Easy!


Photo: Operation Christmas Child/Samaritan’s Purse


Share the Joy

Having a big family Thanksgiving or Christmas party? Ask folks to bring things for shoeboxes or just bring the shoe box itself! Here’s a list of What To Pack to help you advise your guests on what to bring. If you must have your Thanksgiving a week early, you can then drop the boxes off at a collection location (with the suggested $7 donation inside–or pay online and print a label. Paying online gets you a card saying where your box went!) Take pictures to share. Tweet or Instagram #ipackedashoebox





Here are items I feel are totally acceptable to re-gift into a shoebox:

  1. Water bottles (as long as any wording or logos are not offensive) Clean Water is HUGE need.
  2. Drawstring backpacks (same rule on wording or logo but no  camouflage or military).
  3. Rejected clothing: Examples–you buy your little Princess a pack of undies, but after wearing the first pair she refuses to wear the others because the elastic is too tight. A polo shirt you bought your munchkin but the sleeves have tight cuffs and he hates tight cuffs. A dress suitable for play that was never worn because the 12 great-aunts bought her 37 sundresses. That pair of socks in the bag that goes with nothing. You get the idea.
  4. Small stuffed animals that never got named or loved, but are clean and fresh.
  5. Ninth identical Hot Wheels or Matchbox car.
  6. Extra party favors (these should be EXTRA in the box, too–never the “Wow” item).
  7. The wrong school supplies. No pink folders allowed? Into a girl’s shoebox.
  8. Warm hats/head bands (winter kind) with nothing offensive on them.


After Christmas and birthdays cull any small toys you know will never be wanted or missed. If shoebox-appropriate,  stash them away. (Consider other charities like women’s shelters for other toys).


Check out these great Year-Round Packing Ideas


Then on Halloween next Fall, host a big party for everyone that starts with shoebox packing before trick-or-treat! Take pictures to share. Tweet or Instagram #ipackedashoebox


An Operation Christmas Child shoebox is a gift of God’s love and of HOPE, but it doesn’t need to break the bank or ruin your budget.

Want to see my other posts on this topic? Click on Operation Christmas Child in the Tag Cloud in the right sidebar.

Can’t deal with clutter? If you don’t mind pay BOTH to ship them to the OCC procesessing center AND make a donation to cover shipping the box to the distribution, you can send them year round. You can also fill as shoebox online for $25–NO MESS, NO CLUTTER!!

Samaritan’s Purse

                                                                Attention: Operation Christmas Child

                                                                P.O. Box 3000

                                                                801 Bamboo Road

                                                                Boone, NC  28607

 $7 suggested donation for shipping/handling. You can pay online HERE and get a card telling you where the box ended up!





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