The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. It exists to provide Christmas gifts to children of poverty around the world. The gifts that are provided are shoeboxes that are stuffed with things that kids want/like/need.

Our church has participated in OCC for a few years now, and Abby and I have always packed up a couple of shoeboxes to donate. Our Life Group also packs shoeboxes together as a group- we started out doing 30 boxes a few years ago, and this year we have worked our way up to 60. Everyone signs up to bring 60 of a certain item, we spread them out on many tables, and the adults supervise the kids as they choose things to go in each box.

I've been thinking a lot about OCC. There are people around the world who donate much more than one box a year. Why don't I do that? So, I prayed about it and decided to do a dozen boxes. Lots of the items that I purchase for the boxes are packaged in 12s, so it seemed like a good number. I also started looking for bargains for the boxes in December. I decided to buy a dozen items each month. That way, I would spread the cost over the whole year instead of just one shot in the fall. Of course, the school supplies were all bought in August during the big sales, but everything else was purchased through the year.
I use this bookshelf in my guest room to hold all of the items as I gather them through the year. I found out that boys age 10 to 14 had the fewest boxes donated so I decided to do all of my boxes for that age group. Makes it easier to buy in bulk. I found bargains in many places- The Dollar Store, office liquidation stores, WalMart, Target, Ross Dress for Less, craft stores, online toy outlets, and craigslist. (Craigslist is where I found lots of Beanie Babies for less than a dollar each- and they still had their tags. Since they were part of a collection and hadn't been used as toys, they were ok to put in the boxes. Beanie Babies happen to squish nicely into the shoe boxes.)

I have to tell you, I had a blast planning and shopping for the boxes the whole year. It kept me thinking about and praying for the boxes specifically, and Samaritan's Purse in general.
Here is one box worth spread out on a bed. There are school supplies, personal hygiene items, bandaids, toys, a kazoo, a flashlight & batteries, duct tape (every boy likes duct tape), candy, a T-shirt, and a string bag backpack so the guy can carry all his stuff around.

It was pretty easy to spread it out on the bed, the tricky part was getting it into the box!
Thanks to some nice big rubber bands, it almost all fit. I had to leave out one of the pads of paper, but I will use those next year.

Now I have to go to the Samaritan's Purse website and send in a donation to cover shipping. They will send me labels to print and then I just stick them on the boxes and that is it! The labels will track the boxes and in January I will get an email telling me the country where they were sent.

The boy that gets this box will get some cool and useful items, but more importantly, he will be invited to do a Bible study that will explain to him how much God loves and cares for him. That is the coolest gift of all.

I hope you got some good ideas from this post. Maybe you will pack a shoebox this year. Maybe you will pack more than one. Maybe you will make it a family tradition to pack shoeboxes together and deliver them to a local participating church. Maybe you will just send money to Samaritan's Purse. Maybe you will do something for a local charity instead.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have as much fun with it as I have had with the shoeboxes. I can hardly wait till next year!


  1. This is such a great game plan! I'm always throwing things together at the last minute. Spreading it out over the year is brilliant. Thanks for the tips!

  2. We are sooooo proud of you!! You've cought the vision!
    Love, Mom and Dad

  3. OK---I tried to edit---couldn't figure it out---
    soooooooooooooo---caught, not cought!!!!