Sorry, I’ve never edited a photo before!
You may not know that there is a fast, inexpensive way that you can help! Take the 5 Item Challenge. Go through your house and find 5 new (meaning not used; not “fresh from the store” is fine) items that are appropriate for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
- Remember: Every box needs that WOW item! That really cool toy or pair of sneakers or soccer ball or ___________ [something that makes the kids say “Wow” when they open their box]. Hint: Dollar Tree sells almost none of these.
- By starting a box or boxes with the 5 item challenge, you can afford a much nicer WOW item and shipping cost of $9.00 [$14.00 if you want to pay for the evangelism materials for The Greatest Journey course the child may elect to attend. They are not required to attend it to receive a box.]
There are photos of sample shoebox contents at the bottom of this post and in other Operation Christmas Child posts here on this blog.
Here are some ideas of what is acceptable:
Logo-ed items that I consider acceptable:
- Water Bottles
- Drawstring backpacks
- High-quality canvas tote bags
- Ball caps
- Golf towels
- Notepads, pens, pencils
- Corporate toys like stress balls or slinkies or other
- Thin fleece throws
- Winter caps
Other items you may have:
- That pair of socks in the pack that matches nothing you wear
- T-shirts not bigger than Men’s size Small
- Sunhats that fold
- Unopened decks of cards (No “Casino” markings)
- Pencil bags
- Cosmetic bags
- Small durable food containers
- Small decorative tin
- Travel leftovers—hotel soaps, sewing kits, combs
- Partial packs of pens, paper, pencils, index cards, colored pencils, gel pens, markers, highlighters
- Spiral notebooks (70 pages not huge ones), notepads, post-its, journals, Composition Books
- Leftover pretty blank note cards
- Stuffed animals/dolls (please try not to pick ones bigger than a man’s hand though bigger ones are good for toddler boxes)
- “Duplicate” Barbies, darker skin tones preferred[Please no naked underneath the clothes Barbies—they upset many cultures. The ones with the painted-on swimsuit are great]
- Unloved or duplicate toys
- Unloved Happy Meal toys
- Cute key chains or similar size goodies
- Kids [never worn] year-round weight practical clothing [no cammo]
- Small toys that are not war-related
- Travel-sized games
- Hot Wheel/Matchbox
- Lego-type mini-figures or extra legos
- Grown-up Coloring books or Little kids coloring books with colored pencils (put crayon boxes in a ziplock bag in case they melt)
- Treat bag or VBS prize leftovers for “extras”
- Toddler dishes/silverware
- Baby blankets (for toddlers)
- Unopened needlework kits—make sure it has the needle.
- Other unopened or “homemade” craft kits that do not require glue [check to make sure everything necessary is included–latch-hook kits often need a hook]
- Tennis balls or similar
- Small household tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, bungee cords
- Men’s wallets or small ladies change purses
- Solar or scientific calculators (give extra batteries)
- Geometry tool set
- Plastic shoeboxes or women’s regular-sized cardboard shoeboxes (Not boot style boxes)
- Tween/teen appropriate costume jewelry
- Hair barrettes or hair bands
- Toothbrushes (toothpaste is not allowed), dental floss
- Washcloths [please not microfiber cleaning cloths] or hand towels
- Pretty scented soaps for big girls
- Baseball, basketball or soccer cards [NO POKEMAN]
These are suggestions! I’m positive as good Americans we have stuff in every home that isn’t needed and won’t be missed that WILL be wonderful for the shoebox recipient.
Finish Your Box
First, read How To Pack a Shoebox Here
Remember, all lists are SUGGESTIONS--there are no required items except love.
Now pick a gender and an age group. Ages 2 to 4 and 10 to 14 are the most needed, but ages 5 to 9 boxes are great fun to do, too.
Do Not Include
Candy; toothpaste; gum; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; seeds; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.
Please remove all packaging!! Keep pracitcal packaging like crayon boxes, or packaging with use instructions.
What Type Shoebox: You can use any standard shoebox–plastic or cardboard (approximately women’s size 7 is preferred, but any is accepted. Please don’t use a huge boot box–remember all children see all the boxes handed out. If you got a sandal box and your buddy got a work boot box…..you get the idea, right?). You can wrap your box, but wrap the lid separately. If you buy a decorated box put clear Contact paper over it so the tape does not destroy the design. You can decorate the inside of the lid. Secure the lid ONLY with rubber bands–use the whole package of rubber bands if necessary, but only rubber bands. Fill the box as full as possible with QUALITY items. Party favor-quality toys are ok for “extra” but should be just that–extra.
Write a note: You may choose to write a short note to the child and/or put in a family photo. I do not suggest giving your last name or address. Remember, do not give out a work e-mail address–the can be dangerous. Give a personal email if you want any contact. I personally do not do this. I was in Peace Corps and I STILL, 30 years later, get requests for money. I’m not cold, just realistic.
Pray for the child, the family, the village, the church that will be impacted by this shoebox.
Finally, pay your shipping and print your label (or print the generic label and put $9 in the very top of the box (checks are fine, but they can take ages to clear–I suggest cash or money order if you choose this option). These links are in How To Pack a Shoebox Here.
Here are a few sample boxes so you can get the idea.
You can then add your Wow item and any items you want to purchase to the box and drop it off at a local site. Find Your Shoebox Drop Off Location Here.