It's Christmas shoebox time again. Not at the Billy Graham center, but in my garage. I started collecting for Christmas 2012 last Black Friday with 25-cent boxes of crayons at Office Max. Then came the post-holiday sales--bells, kaleidoscopes, fancy pencils, ribbons at Dollar General--and a bonanza of 30-cent items at Michaels, Target, and Wal-Mart.
Every post-holiday has something new to add to my stash of supplies. Plastic Easter eggs are good containers for marbles. Small stuffed animals may have Valentine hearts but that makes them cuter.
Back to school sales are a treasure trove. I've bought summer flip-flops at eight pairs for a dollar in September. After Halloween, I found bags of whistle pops for 50-cents, and the stick part really was a tiny whistle after the candy was eaten.
All year long, many Ingles grocery stores have a dollar aisle, which carries jump ropes, 5-count bouncy balls, and 8-count colorful frogs.
In the toy area, I recently discovered a delightful item--finger lights (3-count for $1). Some CVS stores have a dollar section where I've gotten 3-count packs of washcloths. Walgreens features a plastic travel pouch with toothbrush, cover, and toothpaste ($1
Dollar General offers a 50-count bag of marbles ($1) which I divide into smaller amounts and put in 8-count plastic containers ($1) I found at Family Dollar (over on the cereal aisle?). Dollar Tree carries bags of party favors--eight twirly tops or six kaleidoscopes or eight kazoos. These discount stores also have good prices on grooming items for hair and teeth.
The thrift stores are dotted with random, interesting treasures.
Once I found a bag of 200 brand-new blue combs for $2 and a 100-count box of sparkly green pipe cleaners ($1). I'm always on the look-out for nearly new things to carry stuff in--satchels, backpacks, totes, waist packs.
Of course, all this takes time but it stretches my dollars so I can fill more boxes. The trickiest part is keeping everything organized by categories, but I'm getting better at it every time.
I think it's going to be another good year--in my garage--for Operation Christmas Child."He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done"(Proverbs 19:17).