It’s the time of the year to start thinking about packing your Operation Christmas Child box for Samaritan’s Purse. Last year, Samaritan’s Purse distributed shoeboxes to eight million children around the world. Our family has prepared boxes since our kids were little. Every year, each of them would pack one for a child their age and gender. Now, that the last two are both in college, my grandchildren jumped in to help me.
I spoke with Brittany this morning at Samaritan’s Purse and asked about the three most important items they’d like to see in a shoebox. She said hygiene materials are number one. Toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, soap and a comb or brush are essential elements in every box. Following these would be school supplies: notebooks, pencils, erasers, etc. Third on her list was a toy: a stuffed animal, a yo-yo, etc.
I’ve been working on my boxes for a year. I got the idea from my friend Dolly, who inspired me to shop for bargains, so that I could increase my number of boxes.
After holidays (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.) retailers mark down their seasonal merchandise to clear it. I look for items at 75% off—socks, coloring books, toys. Many go for as little as a quarter. When school supplies are reduced, I pick up crayons, markers, notebooks, and pencils. Just this week, I bought balls for each box, which were reduced from summer stock.
One thing I don’t scrimp on, and that’s toothpaste and a toothbrush that won’t make gums bleed. Children in the third world may not have brushed regularly, so it’s important to buy a good soft toothbrush. Also, if it’s in your budget, a light up toy or flashlight is great. Always include extra batteries. If a child lives without electricity, these things are a wonder. Also, give thought to the toy you include. Easily broken plastic is not a good idea. Look for things with more longevity—a slinky, a toy car. Remember what Brittany said about stuffed animals. I remember hearing a story which emerged from a war-torn country about a fourteen-year-old boy drafted into the army. He took his Operation Christmas Child stuffed animal with him to war.
If you start now, you can increase your number of boxes, too. You may download “How to Pack a Shoebox” and labels for the boxes HERE. Pay special attention to the items that shouldn’t be included. A toll-free number for drop off locations is provided or you can mail your shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child headquarters in North Carolina.
Here’s what especially motivated me. I heard a testimony this year from a missionary in Eastern Europe who spoke about how important the shoebox ministry was in bringing children to his church. He had opportunity to share the Good News with so many who’d never heard it before because of Operation Christmas Child.
That’s all I needed to hear. This year, instead of two boxes, I’m working on twelve.
I still have some items to collect, but I’m closing in on it, and have had some great help.
"Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! "(Luke 12:48 The Message)