This week, thru Monday, is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. If you’ve been reading here, or if you found this post thru a Google search, and are interested in packing shoe boxes for next year, here is some advice on how to get started.
Educate Yourself and Examine Your Heart
I love doing this and recommend the program highly. There are bloggers who complain about it though as well as those who love it. To that end, in this post I’ve tried to answer those complaints. First thoough take time and read Operation Christmas Child website and that of its parent organization Samaritan’s Purse. Both do tremendous good in the world.
After that examine your heart. Is this a program you fully support? If you are not a Christian, have you ever taken time to understand what Christians believe? If not, I suggest you start here:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NIV
This is what they all believe–Nazrenes, Methodists, Church of God, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Free Methodists, Non-Denominational “Christians”–they all believe this.
If, regardless of what you think of the Bible verse–the cornerstone verse of Christianity–you want to move forward in packing boxes then welcome! And, if it’s not for you, I still welcome you. Honestly is always welcome and needed in our world today.
Next, if you are willing, PRAY. Pray that your actions will bless the children and bring hope and bring them to know Christ. If that’s too much, too soon, then can you pray for God’s will to be done with this shoe box? Can you pray just “God bless the child who receives this?” Good. If you aren’t there yet, I understand.
If you are a Christian, did you know you can donate $6 additional dollars per box and cover the FULL cost of the Greatest Journey Discipleship program for your recipient child? Select the additional donation when you pay your shipping/handling fee online.
Plan Your Year
Whether you want to pack one box or one hundred, using the year-round shopping approach is a great way to spread out the cost and …. the fun!
Here is the official Year-Round Packing Plan page. You can also download a Packing Calendar here. I follow this somewhat. I’ve learned that the day after Valentine’s Day and the day after Easter are great times to stock up on stuffed animals–all will be marked 50–80% off. End of season clearance racks provide nice, fashionable clothing at very reasonable prices. Buy one, get one deals on toothbrushes and bar soap help too! This becomes fun and addictive–like a treasure hunt! Here is a link to my post on how I do this–don’t worry, you don’t need to even think of doing it on my scale! 1 box is a blessing.
What Else Can I do?
Get your children involved! While a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy should NEVER be the so-called “Wow” item in a box (the thing the child will be most excited about) they are nice “extras” as are party favors. Have your children save those. Did the dentist hand out toothbrushes or floss? Save them and buy some for your kids instead. Remember to save pens and pencils from conferences or promotions. This post lists other items that can be appropriate from such events. Your kids can also write notes to put in the boxes, decorate the boxes themselves and, of course, PRAY.
Do you love to do crafts? I have a Pinterest board of crafts that would be WELCOME by most shoe box recipients. Remember, though, that to very, very poor people a store-bought gift can mean more. They “make do” with homemade things all the time. So choose crafts wisely. In my opinion child-made crafts, unless done to an adult standard, are not appropriate. If it is a game or homemade craft kit, include photo directions. If you go to Church or to a craft club, get others involved!
Raise Money! Each box has a SUGGESTED $9 shipping/handling fee. Remember–international shipping is hugely expensive!!! Pay online and you find out where you box ended up! Set up a jar to dump change in. Give up $9 of Starbucks or movie tickets or _______ [whatever] per month and put that money in the jar so there are no surprises in November–that will give you s/h for 12 boxes!! Are you having a New Year’s or Super Bowl Party? Charge a $1 entry fee or have people bring a small item–suggestions are packages of pens and pencils or crayons, water bottles, hats/gloves, etc. Explain in the invitation where the money or stuff will go. You might be surprised how much you raise!
Have a family or neighborhood packing party on Halloween instead of or after Trick-or-Treating. Here’s how link. You can order logo-ed boxes or ask at shoe stores or big box stores for unwanted shoe boxes. Walmart has packs of 10 plastic shoe boxes at a big discount. Hobby Lobby sells logo-ed plastic shoe boxes. This post has a great list of my own “what not to pack” items and this post shows how to appropriately re-gift brand new items you may already have. Almost any Mom will have that shirt the kid hated, but which any other kid would wear or those socks that matched nothing–you get the idea. “Harvest Your House” first!
Yes, I’ve intentionally repeated this one! Pray for God to guide your efforts, to bless the child who will receive the box and for those who may be considering packing a box or even considering becoming a Christian thru this ministry! Here are my posts on the Children I Think of when I pack these boxes–Children In Malawi and Children in Ukraine/Russia.