Operation Christmas Child every year. This is a completely unsponsored post, and with the deadline approaching, I thought I'd write about how the program works and how you can participate.
Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritan's Purse, an organization led by Fanklin Graham. The mission of OCC is "to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ."
In short, you can fill a shoebox with gifts and treats for a child of a specific age range and send it in to an OCC drop-off location. The shoeboxes are delivered to headquarters in Boone, NC, where they are inspected and processed. From Boone, the boxes are shipped all over the world and distributed to children at special events, along with a copy of "The Greatest Gift of All" booklet in their own language.
It is so exciting to imagine all of the places that one little shoebox from Virginia could travel to!
What can you send in a shoebox?
You'll first choose whether to pack for a Boy or Girl, and then an age range (2-4, 5-9, or 10-14). Gift ideas include school supplies, small gifts and toys, hygiene items, and hard candy. You can find more suggestions here.
You can get free OCC shoe boxes at many Christian bookstores, churches, and schools, but I highly recommend purchasing a clear plastic shoebox from WM, Target, or the Dollar Tree. I've heard that some children use those clear bins to tote water, and many would love to have a durable box to store their belongings in. For just a dollar or two, you can make a real difference in that aspect!
Here's a little of what we packed this year:
Some of those items will be split up because I'm meeting some friends from my MOPS group on Monday morning for a packing party. We'll split up items like packs of washcloths, combs, toothbrushes, candy, and markers and share. Then we'll wrap our box tops and lids separately, include a personal note and a separate check for $7 to cover shipping. (You can also pay extra online to "track" your box to its destination country, but I have not had good luck with that and have tried it for 2 years)
How do you fit everything in your shoebox?
I get creative! I roll things stack things and sometimes smush stuff that is smushable. As you can see, I left out the stuff that will be split up on Monday with my friends' boxes, and candy is always great for filling in gaps. I'll also have my girls draw a picture to go inside.
Speaking of my girls, this is something they really look forward to! Participating in OCC has taught them about giving and thinking of others. We've even looked at some of the OCC videos online so that they can see how blessed they are in comparison to others. They really enjoy picking out little toys and gifts for "the little girl who has no toys." In their own simple way, that is how they refer to the special little girl who will receive our box this year.
We'll say a prayer and send it off next week, and soon it will be in the hands of a little girl that God knows needs a special blessing. I truly believe that He uses these boxes to show children that He is there and He cares for them.
Please, if you are viewing this in a reader or through your email subscription, take a moment to click over and view this OCC video. It follows Ralph, a little boy in the Phillipines, on the day he receives a special shoebox from OCC. It broke my heart to see how excited he was to receive school supplies.
I've been griping and worrying about my house being too small, how many Barbies I should get the girls for Christmas, I have to park in the "far" parking lot at preschool, blah blah blah. How humbling to see this child, who lives in a literal dump, receive a simple gift that many of us take for granted, and to see his face alight with joy. It really puts things in perspective for me. What an excellent reminder to redirect my focus this holiday season!
If you'd like more information, you can check out Operation Christmas Child, or go here to find a drop-off location. The deadline is next week!
I can't tell you what a blessing it is to participate in this charity! With Big Mama's ongoing Compassion Trip to Ecuador, this has been on my mind a lot lately...
Does your family participate in Operation Christmas Child? What are your favorite things to pack?
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