Operation Christmas Child time!

It’s getting very close to drop off time for the Operation Christmas Child boxes!!!

Operation Christmas Child  is organized by Samaritans Purse, an American Christian organization.  While it is American, the program has spread all across the world, and it is now possible for people in most developed countries to share a connection with children in less fortunate situations. And CORRECTION:  according to Gordon McCann who has worked for Samaritan’s purse,  the Shoebox appeal actually began in the United Kingdom!

Correction again:  the shoebox appeal began in the UK and then merged with Samaritan’s Purse….Here is a great timeline for anyone interested  Thank you Nicky Butler!

It’s a really simple concept, a shoe box, something we all seem to have stuffed in our closets, filled with gifts and useful items, sent to the less fortunate at Christmas time.  It may not contain anything of great monetary value, but it contains invaluable gifts of hope and love.  As OCC states the shoe box program opens many doors allowing Samaritans Purse to work in communities to improve lives.

Anyone can participate!  It is so so easy.  I’m going to show you how!  Samaritan’s Purse in the UK has suggested in honor of the London Olympics in 2012 that we pack Sports themed shoe boxes, and I of course jumped right on that bandwagon!

So first, you will need a shoebox. Being Mizunogirl, I though I’d start with this one:

Yes, it is really just a plain old brown shoebox.

It used to hold my Mizuno Wave Riders, but now it is about to be transformed into something really wonderful and fun.

After getting you box the next step is to wrap the box in some sort of wrapping paper.

It can be holiday themed or just pretty paper.  Some people skip this step all together and use a plastic

storage box that can be found at Target, M & S, or Walmart.  The plastic box of course becomes part of

the gift.  I plan to do plastic next year as I found the wrapping to be the single most difficult part of making my boxes!

and Voila, there it is!  As I said, I had a pretty hard time wrapping the box.  The mizuno shoe box design has a flipping lid, so the paper had to go round the lid without ripping or tearing and allow enough for the hinge.  So, I suggest that you use a shoe box with a detachable lid, or just have patience.

Now for the fun part:   Packing in the items you have chosen for your boy or girl.   You can choose to make a box for a boy or a girl, in various age categories.

This box will be for a girl who is about 11-14 or so.  I chose colored pencils to start with.  HINT:  you can easily and inexpensively  stock your boxes             with crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, rulers, and erasers by shopping

 in August with the back to school extravaganzas!  I was able to get boxes of crayons for twenty five cents and the colored pencils for 75 cents a pop.

Shopping during the sales allows one to pack up more boxes, and saving money is always a good plan.

Of course I was interested in the Sporting theme. After watching several videos of kids opening their shoe boxes, I noted that the balls provided seemed to light up the kids faces more than anything.  SO I was extremely pleased to find these mini-soccer/football balls in Target for just six dollars!  And they came in such pretty colors!

No doubt I suppose that this would be a box for a girl.   I was so excited that the ball fit perfectly in my shoebox. They also had mini-American Footballs, but since these boxes tend to go to countries where Soccer is much more popular, I went with the round kind of ball!

While toys are always fun, it is important to remember that these boxes are going to places where children have very very little.  Practical items are also very important to these children, and may be more important in the long run than the obvious fun items. So, I went out and found some practical things to include as well:

Every box I prepare for OCC has a toothbrush and soap.  In this box, I decided to include some athletic socks as well, and then because I love these hair clips, I decided some young girl might enjoy them as well!  I know most American kids would not be too thrilled to get a toothbrush, socks and soap for Christmas, but, these are items that are needed to maintain health.  I’ve noticed that in the videos, most of the time they aren’t the items that get hoisted around joyfully either, BUT…having healthy teeth is really important because unhealthy teeth can lead to of all things, heart disease!

Moving right along, I wanted to add in some things that are just right for any young lady, so I added in the coin purse that I got when running the Seaside Half Marathon.  It is Vera Bradley, but my goodness, any cute little purse would fit the bill.  I also had gotten a cute baseball hat that I knew I would never wear, and some fun bracelets…

A notepad, and some of the cards my hospital hands out regarding God’s Love.  Initially I was uncomfortable about placing those little cards in the boxes, but then I decided I did want the girl who gets the box to know that I believe that God has a perfect plan for her life.

Add to this  a snazzy holiday card with my message and my box is ready for collection and distribution.

Operation Christmas Child encourages including  notes to the children as well as Photos of your family being placed in the boxes.

I really like this because I think that the photos give these children a real idea of who packed up the box, and gives them a very special sense of connection to the world outside of their circumstances.

I like to use the Covered Bridge cards, as they reflect my original upbringing in South Central Pennsylvania.   So that is how to pack up a box.

I did two this year, one for a girl and a second one for a boy:

It included much of the same items:

toothbrushes, and soap and such, btu also the very popular and portable matchbox cars and a fun baseball glove!

I want to stress how inexpensive it was for me to complete these boxes.  Almost everything I bought was on sale.  I looked for the sales through out the year and when I found something that would fit in a shoebox, and looked like a lot of fun, I snapped it up!

Operation Christmas Child puts very few restrictions on what can go in boxes.  This is the list:

No Food

especially chocolate – non-chocolate sweets are allowed
No medicine

No war related item

No clothing (gloves and hats OK)

No fragile items

No liquids

No dangerous items

No novels

Nothing of a political nature

All of that really makes sense.  Since there are so few restrictions, you can really put a lot of your personality into the box. Being a Christian organization, Samaritan’s purse really believes that the appropriate box will reach the appropriate child.  I like that concept, so much for a “cookie cutter” approach where each child gets exactly the same thing in each box.   For you crafty people, Samaritan’s purse provides all sorts of patterns for appropriate toys! All boxes of course, as checked and any inappropriate items are removed before delivery.

Now Teulu the wonder dog did “help” with the box packing.  I put this lovely holiday ribbon on him, but it had bells so he became quite agitated…but here he is for his fans!

Not so thrilled with having bells tied to his neck…..


So why do this?  This video captures it all for me.

So why not pack up a box this year?  Drop off locations are easy to locate using this web site and your postal code.

Of course, I did also purchase many similar items that will be donated locally, in these “tough economic times”  it’s important to think locally, and act locally, but…I still think despite the difficulties facing the United States that we can take a moment to focus out.   Do you have any Holiday Charitable traditions? How did they get started, by your parents?  or was it something you decided to do one year and just have not stopped?


21 thoughts on “Operation Christmas Child time!

  1. What a great idea — I like the scope of it (global, but yet the requirements for an individual gift box are reasonable). I think we might have to do that. Thanks for brining that up.

    And Teulu looks great in his “accessory” — Penny hates having extra stuff put on her too. We were just talking about trying to find her antlers for Christmas… 🙂

    • Thanks Steve!!!

      I enjoy the way the shoebox drive is set up as well! If you and the beloved do end up doing it, I know the children would love to see a photo of you , the beloved and Penny! Let me know how things went for you!

      Antlers? Penny will have such a baleful look!

  2. I really like this idea. My kids’ elementary school had a Secret Santa program where they were given a list of things to buy for students at a school in a low-income neighborhood. Sadly, they discontinued it because some people would actually wrap up used clothing, shoes and junk as “gifts,” and the children at the poorer school often made unrealistic requests (no, sorry, I’m not going to get you a Nintendo Gameboy, no matter how good you were this year). A shoebox filled with a mixture of fun and useful gifts works a lot better.

    Teulu is a cutie in his ribbon, but I can understand why dogs hate wearing holiday froufrou. My brother has a pair of reindeer antlers he puts on his dog for Christmas parties. Sandy however looks miserable in the photos I’ve seen of her wearing them. I think she’s embarrassed—you can see people in the background of the photos laughing at her! So I hope for her sake Bro skips the reindeer routine. Even a ribbon would be better.

    • That is so distressing that people seem to feel that used stuff could be a gift for a child in need. Children often make unrealistic requests, as they don’t have a good concept of money….

      Some dogs seem to do ok with the dressing up thing, but those dogs are especially special.

  3. What a fabulous idea – I think I will investigate your link to see if there are drop off points near me. I love the shot of Teulu – did you put a photo of yourself and him in the boxes?

  4. This sounds fantastic!
    I will investigate it, also!
    We have a program through work where we bring in toys/school supplies/useful items for kids age infant through 18 and make up gift bags for them. I am off to the store right now to get some stuff for that! I’ll check out this link, too!

  5. ramblebee says:

    This is awesome! Do you know if they have this in Aus? I’ll have to research it 🙂

    Also, good on you for your resilience with your hip – being a sporty girl I could imagine how frustrating it would be! I read your other posts, keep it up 🙂

  6. Emmy says:

    Wow, the video of Julia was great. It makes me ill that children would not have something as basic as a toothbrush or soap. I hope she gets to attend school, and thanks for inspiring me. We are definetly doing this!

    • I’d love to see your box when you finish!!! OCC now has a way throught he web site to register your box as well, and you will then know at least which country it ended up in. I found toothpaste on sale this week for 95 cents, so I had to make room in the boxes for that!

  7. Super idea MG! I just love the smile on the face of the little boy getting his gift. Its so sad that so many kiddos go without the most basic of necessities.

    Teulu looks adorable in his bells but his expression looks kind of like how Abby looks when I try to put her Halloween costume on. 😉

  8. Great effort.
    A few years back I was working in Ukraine and a box with English writing on it set outside a school (emptied and out for garbage pickup) caught my eye. It was a Samaritan’s Purse box and it put a big smile on my face wondering about who had prepared them.

    • And now you know a little bit about one person who prepares them. I’ve been inspired by my work friends to do this, and over the years it has become a way for us to connect each year, even though we now live far apart!

  9. This is a great program and my family participates yearly. I love the video you included! I wish everyone could be this overjoyed by the little things in life. Be grateful for everything you have for you are blessed by the Lord!

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