Join me in sending some love through Operation Christmas Child! What a great way to kick off your shopping spree this holiday season!
OCC is a ministry by Samaritan’s Purse that reaches out to less fortunate communities around the world by bringing them shoeboxes filled with gifts during the Christmas season. They hand out boxes to children of different ages. These children get the opportunity to not only receive a present but also hear about the amazing love of Jesus.
This ministry is so close to my heart. Videos and stories of the children who receive these gifts never fail to touch my heart. I CRY every single time!!!
I had the blessed opportunity to volunteer in one of their gift giving events one Christmas in the Philippines. I vividly remember going with my mom to the store to find things to pack for the shoeboxes that were laid out in our living room floor. I didn’t quite understand what they were for since my mom just said we were doing it to help out children who may not have any gifts that Christmas. That thought really saddened me because I didn’t really know what not receiving a present on Christmas Day felt like. I’ve always had gifts under the tree and there was always plenty to choose from. It was even a matter of which one I would open first. Christmas was always extra special when my family and I would all gather around the tree to see which boxes had our names on them. Little did I know that this seemingly insignificant shopping trip would change my life. As my mom picked up toothbrushes, toothpastes, hair brushes and wash clothes, I thought to myself…wow these kids don’t have essential things like these? Here I was busy listing what I wanted for Christmas while these children were happy with the things I took for granted everyday. Then she started picking out school supplies such as pencils, sharpeners, crayons and notebooks. These were the things I would replace when they are not in “great condition” or slightly broken. Wow! How selfish was I? I took so many things for granted while these children will hold on to them like treasures because they never know when they will get another one. After we were done shopping for the necessities, my mom and I also picked up some toys we were going to place in boxes. These were toys I wouldn’t have probably paid attention to since they were small and “looked cheap.” What a bratty attitude I had! After shopping, we went home and sorted these items and placed them in their respective boxes. When the Saturday of the outreach came, I felt lazy and considered backing out because the event started at 9AM! That was way too early for a Saturday! But I decided it was only one Saturday anyway and got ready to go. Upon reaching the hall where all them were made to gather, I saw a sea of children of various ages lined up eager to receive their presents. One by one, I handed each child a shoebox. As each of them slowly opened their boxes, the looks on their faces were priceless. Joy filled the place as smiles and laughter spread like wildfire across their faces. As I stood there and watched their faces light up, my heart felt ashamed. I felt so selfish and proud to think I was the one who was blessing these children because I brought the gifts. Instead, they blessed me. Their thankful faces and sincere smiles gave me the perfect picture of genuine joy and a grateful heart. A lesson of thankfulness and appreciation for everything I had were the lifelong lessons I learned that day. For the first time I embraced the real essence of giving. Every year since then, I have packed shoeboxes for children and till today it never fails to bless my heart. Though I am not able to physically deliver them anymore, I still rejoice in the fact that I know someone special across the world will smile when he or she opens my shoebox. What a wonderful feeling this is. More importantly, as the gifts are handed out to them the Gospel of Jesus is shared as well. Recently, Samaritan’s Purse also started a discipleship program that teaches these children how to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. What an awesome way to bless a child physically and eternally! How about you? Would you like to help change a life of a child through a simple shoebox?
Anyone and everyone can do this! If you would like to join me in packing your own shoebox…here are 10 easy ways to do it! Remember! The more boxes you pack, the more children you will bless! 🙂 You can even this a family project and make it a Christmas tradition! As you pack your boxes, you can also remind your children that sharing is caring!
Operation Christmas Child: How to Pack a Shoebox
- Find an empty shoebox. Wrap it if you wish, but please make sure to wrap the lid separately. You may also use a similarly sized plastic storage container with a removable lid or other similarly sized box.
- Decide on WHO you are packing the gift for.
- Boy/ Girl
- Age categories:
i. 2-4 years
ii. 5-9 years
iii. 10-14 years
3. Purchase gifts according to the gender & age
- Gift Ideas:
- Toy suggestions:
- BOYS- mini cars, trucks, balls, flashlights with batteries, small stuff animals, Lego, yoyos
- GIRLS- small dolls, stuffed animals, hair accessories, jump rope, stickers
- Necessity items: combs, mild bar soaps, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, t-shirt, underwear, socks, sunglasses, watches caps
- School supplies
- Art supplies- crayons, coloring books, markers
- IF you will include HARD CANDY, please make sure to DOUBLE BAG them.
4. Write a letter from YOU! Don’t forget to write your address so they can write back! I have had children write my students back before and it made the experience extra special! This is a great way to get your family and your kids involved too!
5. Put a picture of You & Your Family.
6. Include a CHECK $7 or MORE (per box) in an envelope and place it where it will be VISIBLE inside the box. This covers shipping and other expenses the organization may need.
- Checks can be made payable to SAMARITANS PURSE.
- Memo line: OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
- Write your NAME & ADDRESS on the envelope
7. TAPE the label for the BOY/ GIRL with the appropriate AGE BOX CHECKED on the LID of your box.
8. EZ GIVE (online): attach the bar code label on the lid of your box
9. PACK & PRAY! PRAY PRAY PRAY for the special boy or girl that will receive your box!
10. Find a DONATION LOCATION near you! All you need to do is drop off your boxes and someone will take care of it from there! Go on the Samaritan’s Purse website and you can type in your zip code and the closest drop-off location will pop up!
IMPORTANT: DO NOT INCLUDE
- Liquid that can open, break or spill: shampoo, aerosols, mouthwash
- Avoid items that can easily break, spoil, old or USED! Food, chocolate, vitamins, medicines
- Avoid war related toys: guns, knives, military toys or figures holding weapons.
REMINDER: Do you want to know where your box will go? GO ONLINE and DONATE THERE! EZ GIVE allows you to make a financial donation online and FOLLOW your box to find out where your box is going! https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/followyourbox/