Each year, I tell you about packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. It’s something that my family and I have been doing for years. You usually hear from me around the 3rd week in November which is the national collection week. Today, though, I want to tell you it’s never too early to start thinking about those in need nor too early to start packing a box. Not only is it more affordable to spread out the purchasing but you can also find great deals on things out of season – like hats and scarfs in summer. We also look for things like flip-flops in the fall and always check out the clearance sections for items. Right after Valentine’s Day and Easter is a great time to look for stuffed animals. OCC even has some great year-round packing ideas on their site.
Last year, OCC delivered more than 11.4 million shoeboxes to more than 150 countries and territories. The boxes are delivered to millions in need and not only are they filled with beautiful and amazing gifts that many children have never seen, they are also filled with the love and prayers from folks around the world who packed them. We love using the boxes to teach Jack about how fortunate we are and to help build compassion for those in need. Each year when encourage him to write a note to the recipient, too. It’s a way for him to connect with the children who receive our boxes.
There will be a few changes this year in terms of allowed items, so take note. In years past, things like candy and toothpaste were allowed, but due to increasing custom regulations, they won’t be able to include those items this year. It’s best to check out the OCC page on what’s allowed if you have any questions about an item.
And don’t feel limited by the items mentioned here. There is so much need, many other things can be used too. I’m told of a little boy who received a shoe box with oven mitts in it. What’s amazing about it is the boy’s family owned a small bakery and he had burns on his arms from the racks in the oven, so the mitts were the perfect gift. That’s God in complete control there, folks. The right items will get to the children who need them. Always.
As in year’s past, you can make your donation ($9 this year) toward shipping online and receive a special label that allows you to track to see where your box ends up. For us, it’s another opportunity to teach Jack about other countries and the people there.
Even if you don’t have the time to get out and shop for items for your shoebox, you can build one entirely online.
See. It’s never too early to start thinking about your shoeboxes. In fact, you can even pack them and ship them directly to the processing center any time of year. Or you can simply tuck them away for the collection week in November. Regardless of how you do it, know that you’re helping to spread love, prayers, and the gospel to those who need it most. Learn more at about Operation Christmas Child on the Samaritan’s Purse website.