As I point out in my post about coupons for the military, our residents enjoy activities that involve giving to others. That’s why I encourage you to offer your residents the opportunity to participate in Operation Christmas Child.
Here’s what Operation Christmas Child is all about as quoted from their website:
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, demonstrates God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, shares the Good News of Jesus Christ. We collect and send simple shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items to children affected by war, poverty, disaster, famine, and disease. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 146 million shoebox gifts to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
Check out this site for information on how to put together an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Even though it’s only July, this is the perfect time to begin collecting gifts to put in the shoeboxes. Why? Because you can buy items at great prices during back to school sales.
Gifts for your boxes may be collected in a variety of ways. Ask friends, neighbors, family members, and staff to donate individual items. Hold fundraisers, then send residents and volunteers out shopping. Offer the opportunity for people to sponsor a box “in memory of” or “in honor of” someone special. We also applied for and received a small grant for our project one year.
A few more tips we’ve learned over the years:
- Use standard sized shoeboxes. It’s discouraging for a child to receive gifts in a small kid-sized shoe box when the child next to them receives gifts in a boot- sized box. Standard sized boxes are also easier to pack in shipping crates.
- Check with local stores that sell shoes; they’re often willing to save shoeboxes for you.
- If you’ve packed shoeboxes in the past, please note that candy and toothpaste are no longer allowed due to customs regulations. (This refers to boxes packed in the United States. Other countries may have different rules.)
- Include items that are used together (pencils with a sharpener and extra eraser, a flashlight with extra batteries, etc.).
- While you may be tempted to buy inexpensive items to keep the cost of the boxes down, be sure everything is of good quality. You don’t want an item to break the first time a child uses it.
- Soap should be lightly scented and double wrapped in zipped plastic baggies. This prevents the scent from overpowering other items in the box.
- Remove as much packaging material from your gifts as possible. This allows more items to fit in the box, and it prevents trash from being sent overseas.
- If you send your gifts in a plastic tub, place the wrapping paper so it shows through from the inside instead of wrapping the outside. Then the paper is less likely to tear.
- Consider packing extra boxes for boys in the 10-14 age group. The lowest number of boxes are received for this group.
- This is a great project for inviting community groups to come in and help with shopping, sorting gifts, wrapping boxes, and filling boxes.
- To make this project even more meaningful to your residents, hold a “blessing” service just before the boxes are shipped. This gives residents an opportunity to get together and pray for the children who will receive the boxes they’ve packed.
- Remember that you can include encouraging notes, pictures, or self-addressed postcards in your boxes. We’ve also asked children in our onsite childcare center to make drawings to add to the boxes.
This year I want to challenge you to offer your residents the opportunity to pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. To help with the cost of supplies, I plan to do a weekly blog post with suggestions on where you can buy items for your boxes at great prices. Then, when collection week comes around (November 13-20) I’ll be thrilled if you post how many boxes your group packed. Are you with me?