Every year, the Operation Christmas Child videos turn me into a tearful mess, just watching children from around the world cheering and dancing because they receive one simple box for Christmas.
Maybe inside they find a toothbrush and toothpaste….or a toy car….or some hair clips.
That’s enough to make them cheer.
And it’s enough to make me cry at their grateful hearts and their innocent joy.
Every year, the organization Samaritan’s Purse collects shoeboxes stuffed full of goodies that they then deliver to needy children all over the globe for Christmas.
Oh how easy to forget, though, that the gift isn’t just the items we pack into a small box and ship out.
The gift is the testimony of God’s love–that our God sees them, loves them. I read an email this week about a boy with a box who looked at the blessing and saw a loving God at work and wanted to know more about Him.
National Collection Week is in November, before Thanksgiving—this year, November 18-25! That means that we’re in the middle of prime shoebox packing season.
We’ve been packing shoeboxes as a family for several years and it’s by far one of my favorite Thanksgiving/Christmas traditions because it’s a reminder to be grateful. It’s a way to shift our focus off of getting and onto giving.
This year, though, we’re learning new tips from a family at our church who is passionate about OCC!
Our church is hosting a true packing party for the first time. In addition to the individual boxes we can pack at home, we’ve been collecting bulk supplies at the church. This week, we’ll gather as a church family and pack as many boxes as we can by working together.
My husband and some of the families at church even made a fun video about how packing parties are different from packing individual boxes. Please check it out here:
Now that I know we’ll hold a packing party again next year, I can prepare all year long for the event instead of scrambling for items the last few months of the year.
We learned this year that homemade items and gifts are great to fit into the boxes we send. I’ve seen videos about women knitting slippers, sewing dresses, and making socks for shoeboxes.
I’m not nearly so craft-capable.
But, my daughter and I can make simple friendship bracelets or my little ones can make beaded necklaces.
The family at church makes small sewing kits for older girls inside empty mint tins and hinged eyeglass cases and they collect small toolkits for boys.
Whatever we decide to make, if we start now, we could have at least a hundred or more homemade gifts for next year’s packing party!
I also have a whole year to collect items for the packing party by shopping clearance sales and deals, especially after each holiday.
Even more than that, if I pick one simple, inexpensive item to buy every single time I walk into the store all year long, I’d have collected almost 100 boxes of crayons or pencil sharpeners or toothbrushes or whatever item I choose.
If your church has a packing party, would you consider picking one or two items to buy at the store each time you go?
I hope that you’ve packed a shoebox before and are making one again this year! If not, here’s everything you need to know to get involved in Operation Christmas Child as an individual even if your church is not hosting a packing party!
You can begin by learning more about the organization here, like:
- What to pack in your shoebox.
- Where to find the closest drop-off location.
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
If you make a $7 donation online to cover the shipping for your box, you can even print off a label that lets you track it here!! A few weeks after delivery, they’ll send you an email telling you what country your box was delivered to and some general information about the needs in that area. Our boxes two years ago ended up in Tanzania.
Most important of all, pray for the child who will receive your shoebox! Prayer is so powerful. Don’t just send stuff, send gifts along with time spent on your knees.
Here are some of my favorite OCC videos.
Matthew West shows the Great Lengths OCC goes to bring shoeboxes to kids around the world.
Scotty McCreery shows how to pack a shoebox.
Check out how excited this boy from Angola is to receive his shoebox! This is my most favorite OCC video!
There are so many opportunities to give every holiday season, but this is my very favorite. I hope you’ll make Operation Christmas Child a part of your holiday traditions, as well!
Do you have any great ideas or stories about Operation Christmas Child to share with us?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King