It’s time for Operation Christmas Child 2012!
I love Operation Christmas Child. I love the heart behind it – blessing children around the world and telling them about a God who loves them and Jesus who died for them.
I love the simplicity of it – pack a shoebox full of gifts (toys, personal hygiene items, school supplies) and drop it off at one of hundreds of drop-off locations around the country to be shipped to a child in need.
I love being able to involve my children in purchasing the items and packing the boxes. I had planned to let them each pack a box for their age and gender child, but my oldest is 17 and the boxes are only delivered to children up the age of 14. That’s okay, though. We’re not picky.
The shoeboxes are actually delivered by gender and age range: 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14 and I have heard that the 10-14 age range is the most under-supplied, particularly for the boys. It made me feel good to know that we’ll be supplying boxes for the age range that needs them most and Megan actually wants to fill a box for a boy, so we may just do that.
I’m part of a blogging team who will be helping to spread the word about Samaritan’s Purse and their ministries – there are others aside from Operation Christmas Child – over the next nine months or so and I’m very excited about that. You know why?
It’s partly because I’m excited to play a role in the ministries of Samaritan’s Purse, but I won’t lie – a big, practical reason right now is because, while I always have good intentions about Operation Christmas Child, there has been more than one year that I’ve let the time get away from me. You see, in order for children to receive the boxes during the Christmas season, they have to be dropped off in early November – a few weeks before I’m usually thinking about Christmas.
This year, I’m on the ball! We’ve already started collecting items and packing our boxes in preparation for National Collection Week, November 12-19, 2012.
Would you like to bless a child at Christmas and allow them to hear about Jesus? It’s easy to prepare a box!
1. Start with a shoebox. Just about any standard size shoebox will work (no large boxes such as those boots come in). If you don’t have a box, you can order one from Samaritan’s Purse. Better yet, pick up a plastic shoebox with a snap-on lid (less than $1 at Target and Wal-mart). They can be used for storage by the children and their families.
2. Pick a gender and age range. As I mentioned, you can choose to send your box to either a boy or a girl in the following age ranges: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Once you decide, print off a label to fill out and tape to the top of your box.
3. Pray. The boxes go to different locations each year. You can track your box if you choose to donate online. Whether you donate online or drop your box off locally, though, when you pack your box, you’re not sure if it’s going to a warm region or a cold region. You know what, though? God knows.
He also knows exactly what the recipient needs. So, pray over your box and its contents. I’ve heard incredible stories of a child being blessed with exactly what he or she needed through these shoeboxes. (Yesterday, Jolanthe posted the video I was thinking of. I strongly encourage you to take 4 minutes out of your day and go watch it.)
4. Pack your box. You can read the official list of do’s and don’ts on the Samaritan’s Purse site, but some suggestions for items to include in your shoebox are:
- School supplies – paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons, erasers, solar-powered calculators
- Personal hygiene items – soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloth, small towel, brush, comb, deodorant
- Clothing – t-shirts, underwear, gloves, hats, socks
- Practical items – water bottle/cup, plastic bowl or plate, spoon/fork, small tote bags
- Toys – puzzles, cars, jump ropes, Play-doh, dolls, stuffed animals, tops, jacks, small rubber balls, kids’ meal toys, Pick and Draw cards
- Other – hair bows, hard candy, picture books, costume jewelry, coloring pages, book marks
5. Don’t forget handmade items. Brianna is going knit a cap for each of our boxes. She was worried about our boxes going to a warm area, but we discussed #3 above and she’s making the caps.
6. Enclose a note. You can include a note for the recipient in your shoebox. You can even include an address and the child may write you back! Samaritan’s Purse has a great printable that you can include to tell the recipient a little about yourself (click the “print art” tab).
7. Bag your items. I’ve read several times that even hard candy can melt in some very hot locations and ruin items in your box. It’s a good idea to double bag things like: candy, crayons, toothpaste, and soap (so the scent doesn’t permeate the entire box). Remember, even the plastic bags may be useful for storage in the child’s home.
8. Enclose a check. In the past, the suggested donation to cover the cost of processing and shipping the box has been $7 per box. With shipping costs rising, $7 is the minimum suggested amount. If you pack more than one box, you can write one check for all boxes. Just place your check on top of your gift items, inside one of your boxes or you can use your credit or debit card to donate online.
9. Rubber band your box. When you’ve got your box ready to go, place the lid on top and put a rubber band around the entire box. Boxes should not be wrapped shut (boxes and lids can be wrapped separately, if desired) or sealed, as they are checked by volunteers before being shipped to ensure that breakable items or those that cannot be included (food; chocolate; used, damaged, or war-related items; medications and vitamins) are removed and that the boxes meet their destination country’s customs regulations.
10. Drop off your box. There are drop-off locations all over the country. You can check here to find a drop-off location near you.
Have you and your family participated in Operation Christmas Child before? What are some of your favorite items to include? We’re still shopping and packing, so give me your best suggestions!
As a member of iHomeschool Network’s Samaritan’s Purse Blogger Team, I write about the ministry on a volunteer basis. All posts are my own thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Samaritan’s Purse. I am not an employee, agent, or contractor of Samaritan’s Purse.
This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.