Friday, November 5, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

It's that time of year again!! Something that is very near and dear to my heart.  Operation Christmas Child.  I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at one of the Distribution Warehouses for Samaratin's Purse for two years in a row. This opportunity was truly experiencing being the hands and feet of Jesus. As volunteers, we went through literally thousands and thousands of shoeboxes by hand, to make sure they were well-stocked with safe and appropriate items, and most importantly we prayed over each and every box that we touched. I remember every few hours, someone would come over the loud speaker and the hustle and bustle of the warehouse would die down and we would all be praying together, and listening to stories of individual children's lives, and how they were changed with their simple gift of a shoebox. I saw first hand boxes that were filled with sometimes odd things, such as nothing but socks... and then hearing a story about a child who had received a box full of socks who had a foot disease, and that was all he longed for. As you put together your boxes this year - please pray over it, pray as you shop, pray for the child who will receive it.

(pardon the picture quality here - I had my pocket camera with me).

My friends and I decided to come up with a "Perfect Shoebox" list to help others pack their boxes.  There are many items that the volunteers have to pull out of the shoeboxes because they aren't safe to travel.  The most common things were any kinds of liquids - including lotions, shampoos, ANY liquid will be removed.  Same thing for any kind of candy that could melt, including tootsie rolls.  (Think boxes on the backs of camels traveling across a desert - it happens!!)  This could ruin an entire box, or a case of boxes.  Even though this is a holiday effort here in the states, some of these boxes don't reach their final destinations for months and months, possibly even by June or July.   Don't send anything breakable like mirrors, including those little collapsible brushes with mirrors - that was a common item we had to remove.  So - as we saw some great ideas in those boxes - we jotted them down to keep a running list for referring to in the upcoming years.  Here is the list!!

The Perfect Shoebox


• Consider using a Rubbermaid plastic box with a snap lid. (We heard they use these to carry water) Place a rubber band around it to keep the lid on.

• Get a yard of pretty fabric and line the box before filling.

• Consider boys over girls, 2-4 and 10-14 over 5-9 year olds.

• No liquid, lotions or breakables, they will be removed.

• Use Ziploc bags whenever possible – they use them! (Again, carrying water)
• If sending books, send picture books (most do not read English)

Hard candy (only - no chocolate, no tootsie rolls), gum

A plastic school box with a bar of soap wrapped in a washcloth, toothbrush and paste.

A water bottle filled with pens, pencils, sharpener, erasers, crayons, watercolors paints and brushes. Use rubber bands to keep items together.

Paper tablet

Flip flops

Boas, dress up for girls

Combs and brushes




Underwear, t-shirt, socks

Jump rope, Nerf balls


Stuffed animals, baby dolls

Small puzzles

Mini cars, trucks

Picture stickers

A note from you with your name, address, and picture!!!!!! (A few years ago - we actually received a letter back from a child who received our box.  It was written in French and the girls had fun looking up each word on the computer and interpreting the letter, it was a precious, precious letter.)

The girls and I went shopping today - they truly enjoy filling their shoeboxes while thinking of others across the world who are not as blessed as they are.    After we were done with our shopping today, my Banana looked at me and said "Hey Mom - during our shopping for the boxes, my headache actually went away! I guess serving others REALLY DOES make you feel better.... all over!" 

PS) You can pick up empty shoeboxes and labels at  your local Chick-FilA-A or simply print out a label AT THIS WEBSITE.    You can even just handwrite your own label if necessary and drop your box off at any local collection center.  Most Christian schools, many churches, and restaurants like Chick-Fil-A have drop off centers.


Nana said...

We are in the process of filling our shoeboxes too. Our church is one of the collection centers. Each year we increase our number and always meet it. This year our goal for our own church is 1234.00 boxes. I am glad you mentioned the mirror brushes because I had some of them in my boxes.:( Everything else I knew about. Fortunatley our church provides shoeboxes wrapped in Christmas wrap. We are filling 4-5 boxes this year. It is a special time and one I look forward to all year.
I love hearing about the children who get the boxes. We had a girl who had received a box when she was a child and is now grown up come and speak at our church. It really is a great cause and one I am so glad our church is a part of.

petro said...

LOVE this! This has been one of our family traditions too. And I have seen kids who have received the boxes in Romania. Their eyes just lit up when they shared about them.

It is so cool that you have been a part of the "bigger picture". Can't believe you were in my neck of the woods so to speak!

Thank you for using your blog as a voice for the voiceless (orphans and needy kids).

Caseybumpinalong said...

Great post! I collect boxes at our homeschool music program and I'm sharing your list of perfect items. Thanks for the ideas! I'm looking forward to volunteering at a distribution center as soon as my kids get a little older and can go with me (our closest center is about 3 hours away).

Deb said...

Thanks for the tips. We're going to try to make ours this week or next. Missed you today.

Shelby said...

Thanks for posting this video! My daughters and I are putting together boxes and it was neat to watch this video and read your post before heading out to buy items for our box.

Diane said...

Hi there! (lurker here lol)

I've been meaning to do this for a couple years and never got around to it. (Bad, I know) However, your post inspired and reminded me of this ministry. (My church doesn't do it, so I mentioned it to them and they may do it in the future possibly!) I did a box like you said, for an older boy....I had a ton of fun filling it up. Thanks for the reminder!!!