So, Actually in the UK it has been Operation Christmas Child time for a week. In the USA, our collection week starts Monday November 17th.
This is one thing I really like to do. It kicks off the holiday season with a moment of giving. I do wish indeed that we had a summer OCC collection time as well to remind us in July that we really should be giving.
It is quite inexpensive, and I collect things all year round for the boxes I plan to pack.
This year, given my back injury, it’s been a bit more challenging, but I found I was able to pack three boxes easily. I have 2 more that I paid for with the online tracking option. I have one of the two half filled. If I am able to get a few items I will fill it and send it. If not, I will give those bar codes to the collection center, because every year people fill boxes and then do not want to pay the small 7.00 USD fee to ship them.
Here are some highlights from my boxes. I did use the Go-Box- the pre-printed box from the church. It is so much easier and more attractive. Some people go all out and use a tupperware style box that is reusable. I’m just not quite there yet, as those boxes are kind of expensive, and I still feel as if I am on an budget.
As always, hygiene supplies and school supplies are high on the list.
So you can see, I stocked up on pencils/crayons/erasers during the back to school sales in August.
I also always include Soap. I volunteered at several RunDisney events that were rainy this year and Ponchos were issued. I never used my Ponchos, but decided that they might be really useful for a child, so the white packet labelled “Condor” is actually a plastic poncho for rain.
This year, a fellow runner generously send me Mountains of String backpacks from races he had participated in!
So every child got one (or two) of these in their box this year. Thank YOU Greg!
Beyond that I actually did use many race freebies to stock my boxes. Let’s see..
The water bottle came from a race in the Florida Keys….I also has running caps, shoe laces, other water bottles, and some other odd little items that were in race packets.
While not from a race, I do get these freebie stickers regularly from a Disney mailer, so I always save them. Everyone seems to love stickers, and they don’t take up a lot of room!
Beyond the essentials….
Hello Kitty is an International Sensation – especially with the 3-12 yr old set. I was able to get some “play packs” on sale for about 1.00 USD a piece. Crayons again, from the back to school sales.
Tennis balls go on sale at varying intervals through the year. The small doll was perfect for a shoebox, and I was happy to find her for 2.00 USD. I bought several to go into several different boxes. The small ambulance toy was in the Target 1.00 bin, it fit nicely with the box I planned out for a 2-4 yr old boy!
Of course…no box is complete without some sweets. Most candies are not permitted as the boxes are actually stored and distributed year round…but hard candies like the ones above are fine. One tip- if sending hand candies, poke a hole in the bag with a needle and let the air out of the bag. The bag packs better that way. Also if sending a solid water bottle or a rolled up coloring book, slip the candy into the space and you have a good “filler” for the box.
I obviously put more things in the boxes than what I’ve shown. I have found that race goodies…like caps, water bottles, and bags make excellent starters for boxes. Work freebies also help a lot- if you work at a large institution there are often give-a-ways through the year. (or if you go to Home shows, Grand Openings etc) A lot of fun promotional items are given out like keychains, badge holders, pencils, pens, Stress balls, small tote bags, or cups. Often we kind of toss these items into a pile in our offices….this year I spied a cute little keychain in the shape of a green pig. It was about to be tossed, but…I have safely stored it into one of my boxes. I hope whomever sees the little green piggy will find it as cute as I did.
I think it is really fun to pack boxes, and imagine how the child who receives the box will enjoy the items sent. It is a great activity for kids and small enough that it can be done in an afternoon…unless you become one of those ShoeBox Ladies. Then it’s kind of a mission project. I do find the best way to create a box is to shop year round and shop the sales, but it could all be done in one afternoon as well.
I’ll be continuing to try to fill my last box as time and my back permit. Would love to hear about your shoe box adventures as well!!!