Time to pack my Operation Christmas Child box! If you've never heard of OCC, I thought I'd share a little bit about what I'm doing and encourage you to pack one, too!
Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. Their mission 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. My family and I have packed many boxes over the last few years. One time, we even got a letter back from a family member of a child that had received one of our boxes. We always include our address- the box actually went all the way to Lebanon! You can go online here to find out the nitty-gritty details, so I'm just going to share the big picture of how to do it and what I put in mine.
1. Get a shoebox. Or a small rectangular plastic container (which can be reused by the child to carry things in, such as water!). Samaritan's Purse prefers that you use standard sized boxes and not the super-jumbo sized ones. It makes it a little more "even and fair" in the grand scheme of things. I mean, you wouldn't want one child to get a super-jumbo and another to get a teeny-tiny. Stick with the standard.
2. Decide whether you're going to make a box for a boy child or a girl child. Then decide the age of the child. There are three age ranges to choose from: 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. Print the labels from the website and mark the information. Go ahead and tape it on the box so that you don't forget (unless you're going to wrap it. Wait until number 4 in that case).
3. Gather the gifts for the box. There are a list of items on the website that you are NOT allowed to include. It includes things like toy guns and things that would melt or break. Some things that you may want to include are small toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items, candy, etc. Make sure that you include things like a card/note, picture of you/your family, and name and address if you want your child to write you back. This obviously isn't a guarantee that you will get a response, but it's a fun thing to do. And- I've never had any foreign people try and stalk me from it. It's safe, I promise (Not that I really know...but it sounds reassuring). If you include bar soap, wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in a plastic bag. If you include candy, they ask that you double bag it so that the soap smell doesn't seep into the candy. That would be gross. :)
4. If you want to wrap the box (totally up to you, I don't usually do it since I use a plastic container) now would be the time to do that. Make sure you wrap the lid separate from the bottom since Samaritan's Purse has volunteers go through every box to check for items that are not allowed. Then, tape the label on the top of the box if you haven't done so already.
5. Include your donation to help ship the boxes overseas. They ask that you send in $7 or more to cover the costs associated with the shipping. You can give online before you turn your box in (and track your box to the country) or you can include a check. Check the website for more info on this one.
6. Drop it off! Place a rubber band around your box and you are ready to go. Many churches collect them, but Samaritan's Purse has a list of the official drop off centers if your church doesn't collect them. Collection week is November 15-22, so many churches have a deadline of this Sunday so that they can bring them in to the official drop off centers. They also have an address listed on the website if all else fails.
I thought I would end with a list of the things I put in my shoebox.
- Monkey hand puppet from Dollar Tree
- Dora hairbrush (also from the DT)
- Magic towel (they take up less space!)
- Bar Soap
- Puffs to Go (Tissues)
- 24 count Crayons
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste (Check the travel size isle at CVS, they have 99 cent Colgate full-sized toothbrushes!)
- Raid from the Target Dollar Aisle/Bins: Notebook, Coloring book, Stickers, Socks, Chapstick, and Bracelet (All Disney Princess and really cute). Also got a cute pink and purple hat from the dollar bins.
- Hair clips and ponytail holders. I got a pack from CVS that was Conair brand and also had some headbands (that didn't fit into the box) that was a $20 value for $2.99! I think it probably had enough for 2 boxes for little girls, but I just stuffed a bunch in. You should definitely go see if your CVS has any. Worth it.
Have any of you done Operation Christmas Child boxes before or are you doing one (or two or three!) this year? What kind of things to you put in YOUR box?