For over 10 years our family has been participating in Operation Christmas Child through the charity Samaritan’s Purse. It is a tradition we do before Christmas to provide gifts to children who may not otherwise get any gifts at Christmastime. What we like to do is have our three kids pick out gifts for a child their own age. That way they can pick out gifts based on what they think they would like to get. Everything must fit into a shoebox. There are free cardboard boxes from Samaritan’s purse to use, but our church ran out. We could have used regular shoe boxes, but I didn’t have any on hand. Therefore, I picked up shoe box sized bins at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. It is also a good place to pick up toiletries and small items for each shoebox. We like to fill our box with toys and gifts that are age appropriate including one “wow” gift. That means one larger or more expensive toy as the central gift. For the boys they picked out medium sized toy cars from Walmart as their wow gifts. We also like to include basic toiletries such as toothbrush, a bar of soap, washcloth, hairbrush, and combs. Many children in developing countries don’t own these items themselves and may have to share with other family members. We include some candy, because all kids love candy. Just make sure it isn’t something that will melt during shipping. We put a handful of suckers in ziplocks and placed one filled ziplock in each bin.
Below you can see what we put in the bin that Brielle bought for. You are allowed to select a gender and age range for your shoebox recipient. Since Brielle is 7 we filled the bin for a girl age 5-9. The wow items in her bin were a necklace and a Barbie (so you can get an idea of what wow items look like). Then you can see in the photo below the other items that filled the bin. It was packed tight and filled to the brim, but it did shut!
You can find an Operation Christmas Child shoebox drop off location in your area by going to this website and putting in your zip code. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations/
You have only until the 25th of November to drop off, as they need to ship the boxes overseas and they need time to get there before Christmas.
They ask for a donation of $9 per box to cover the shipping and handling fees. You can pay this online and you will get a tracking number that will let you know to what country your box is eventually delivered. Here is the link where you can pay for shipping bins that you would like to send to needy children overseas. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/donation-items/operation-christmas-child-2/?
Once you make the payment online they provide you with a download of the form that you need to print and affix to the top of each shoebox. You can see an example of this form below on the top of our shoebox. This gives you an idea of the age ranges you can shop for.
Operation Christmas Child is a great way to get your kids involved in giving to others. It is easy, yet meaningful. In past years we included cards, a family photo, and our address. Twice we have gotten back letters from the recipients, which was very meaningful! This year my kids made drawings to put into each of their bins.