Operation Christmas Child {November’s Monthly Mission}

Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts by Franklin Grahamf

from Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts by Franklin Graham

Ever since the weather has turned cooler  the kids’ thoughts have turned to Christmas, “Oooh! I can’t wait to get Holly and Hal from the basement! Remember Daddy’s Snoopy ornament? I can’t wait! I can’t wait!” But the most often talked about Christmas activity? Operation Christmas Child.

They have been wanting to pack boxes for weeks. Finally, yesterday pulled up our big rubbermaid boxes–the ones we’ve been collecting toys and gifts in all year, dug out our shoeboxes and started packing. Lydia jumped around the house saying, “This is my favorite thing to do!” They talked and chattered about what to put in the boxes.
operation christmas child ohshoeboxes 1

That afternoon, as everyone took their Sunday nap, I laid on the couch and read Franklin Graham’s new book about the story of Operation Christmas Child–how one church collected a couple thousand boxes and now millions of children receive boxes every year. As I read, the thing that kept popping out to me was the power of prayer.

Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

the kids packing shoeboxes on Sunday

As families prayed over their boxes–their little shoeboxes filled with dollar store items and toothpaste–God did miracles. A blind boy getting a walkman in his shoebox, a child without a coat receiving a leather jacket, a little girl with holes in her shoes finding a brand new pair of shoes in her box, a little girl reading a letter from the childless family who packed her box–and would one day become her adoptive parents. These are true stories that happened because someone like me–like you packed a shoebox full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items!

After naps, the kids and I hopped in the truck, ran to Walmart to pick up toothpaste, toothbrushes and a few more toys for our boxes. We stopped in the parking lot and prayed. We asked God to lead us to the gifts that would change lives. We asked Him to use our gifts to lead kids to Jesus.

Lydia brought all her money–only $4 (she spent all her money on the RV and at Disney!) and found a Lalaloopsy pillow for her box. She prayed a little girl in an orphanage would get it–a little girl with no pillow who would love to go to sleep on a bright pink pillow all her own.

Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

Lydia packing boxes immediately after school and ballet on Monday

Asa brought $10 of his birthday money. He found two Batman pencils, two matchbox cars and a soccer outfit for $1. The outfit was just his size and together we imagined a little boy in another country wearing it–a little boy that would be his friend.

Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

Asa’s magnadoodle drawing of himself packing a box (toothpaste in his hands) and a little boy unpacking it.

Why do my kids think their gifts make a difference? Because that’s what God does. I read them the stories from the Simple Gift. I show them the videos on Samartian’s Purse (not all of them–just the appropriate ones!). We pray that God will use us. They believe it will happen. And so do I!

Last year, I had the amazing privilege of traveling to the Dominican Republic with Operation Christmas CHild  to see the other side of the shoeboxes. To see the kids open their boxes and pick up the gifts a family like ours had packed weeks or months before.

One of the distributions was far away from the big city of Santo Domingo. It seemed like we drove high into the mountains–the vegetation was lush and green. Houses were farther apart and made from metal and cinderblocks. We saw chickens, dogs and men riding horses. There were half naked kids and clotheslines in the yards.

We drove up to a little church, not more than 15 feet wide. Inside were plastic chairs, a little drum set, windows with no screens or glass and dozens of children.

Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

the small church’s ceiling and decorations

A puppet team from Santo Domingo did a puppet show about the real meaning of Christmas and then I got to speak to the kids. If you’ve ever spoken through a translator, you’ll know how incredibly weird and uncomfortable I felt. You talk into blank faces for a minute or two and then when the translator speaks, faces light up and laugh minutes after you.

Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

me and the translator

I asked the kids in that church if they had a very best friend they like to play with. They all said yes. Then I asked, “Do you ever go to your friend’s house and knock and the door and ask them to play?” Yes, of course! “Well, does your friend leave you outside and say, No way! I don’t want to play?” No! “Just like you stand at the door of your friend’s house, Jesus stands at the door of your house and wants to come inside to be your very best friend. But he will never have to leave to go home. Jesus will be with you forever! That is why we brought these gifts to you! To remind you of Jesus, your very best friend!”

It was a simple message. I have no idea if any of the kids were listening to a crazy spikey-haired white American mama. But it was exactly what I felt and saw in those distributions–a simple message, a simple gift. Jesus came to earth. He wants to be with us forever. That’s it. That’s what the gift of Jesus is. That’s what these little shoeboxes show.

So, with every box we pack–I see it as more than a present. It’s a message. A message of God’s great love.

Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

some sweet 6 year old boys I met in the DR

Will you join with me this month in delivering God’s message? You might not get to stand in a little handmade hut and tell children about Jesus. But you don’t need to. You can pack a shoebox and deliver the same message.

This month I’m challenging you to pack a shoebox. I’m going to urge you more than I normally do. In fact, I’m going to take it a step further (farther?). I’d like us to pack 100 shoeboxes together. If I could bring you all to my house for an OCC party or playdate, I’d do it. Instead, can we do it virtually? Can we pack boxes, take pictures and share them with our online community?

Here’s how it’s going to work…

1. Leave me a comment on this post telling me you are going to pack a box.

2. Show your kids a video or two about Operation Christmas Child. (Here’s a Veggie Tales video or one with Duck Dyntasty’s Uncle Si, take your pick!)

3. Pray with your kids for the child that will receive your box. Ask God to lead you to the gifts that will minister to that child.

4. Pack a box with your kids. Take pictures and post them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, your blog, etc. Use the hashtag #operationchristmaschild and #ohshoeboxes (see what I did there?). Drop it off.


Operation Christmas Child // ohamanda.com

Join me?

OK. So, who’s in? Can we pack 100 shoeboxes and send 100 kids the message of God’s love?

Click here to see how many boxes we packed AND to read more about my trip to the Dominican!



A few OCC details… FAQ, Drop Off Locations and How to Pack a Shoebox 


  1. YES YES YES! My birthday is in November, so this is always on my birthday wish list — an afternoon with the kids packing boxes for other kids! We will do 3 boxes!!

  2. Oh I’m in! We wrote our letters last night, and we are shopping this week! Loved your message in DR, and thanks for reminder to pray For God to lead us in packing our boxes! Appreciate you Amanda!!

  3. Jodie Dean says:

    We did 4 already! But we live in Australia and had to have them done at the start of the month.. The kids enjoyed it, and I am aiming to organise my church next year to do more and more and more (we only just starting going to church in April) such an easy and fantastic thing to do!

  4. Amy Murray says:

    Yes we are in! We do them every year but this year I’m attempting to get a packing party going (this never crossed my mind, so thank you for the awesome idea). We are in a new location and we don’t really know anyone yet outside of an online co-op. I’m hoping to get some to join me Friday to pack away.! We have four boxes ready to go now.

  5. I love the Operation Christmas Child campaigns! I watch the promotional videos in tears every year (maybe we should have these running in our TV ad breaks instead of the Coca Cola and expensive perfume ads!!).

    My children have been collecting their tithe from their pocket money all year in a jar and we’re going to spend it on filling some shoe boxes. They are really excited about it and it’s such a great tangible way of children giving. Love it!

    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  6. I’m in! We are packing two boxes this year, one for a boy and one for a girl 🙂

  7. We are in! This will be our first year. After watching my 4 year old go through the many toy mailers, circling everything she “needs,” I realized we need to do something different this year.

  8. Crystal Espinoza says:

    The Espinoza Family accepts your challenge!!! We’ll be back with filled shoe boxes & pictures 😉

  9. On Sunday our family took our annual trip to the dollar store and our two little girls each filled up a box for another child. Can’t wait to drop them off our two boxes next week. We love doing this and it has become an annual tradition in our home.

  10. Our children too look forward to packing boxes for children around the world each year through OCC!! We will join you in this Month’s Mission! Thanks for the book recommendation, ‘Operation Christmas Child: Simple Gifts!’ We watch the Operation Christmas Child videos but the stories I think will be an added dimension to giving the boxes in faith and love knowing our Lord has a purpose of love behind each!
    Jaime from Colorado

  11. We’ve picked up 2 boxes to pack (our church collects them). I think we will probably do a boy (0-2) and a girl (2-4) … for each of my kiddos. I’m planning on taking my daughter to the dollar store this week to pick out things for the boxes. I’ve been involved ever since I went to Charlotte, NC to help out in the processing center my senior year of college (2004).

  12. Already had a “Packing Party” and we gathered 40 boxes! 🙂 We had a sweet time at the end where we all held hands and prayed over the boxes. Thanks for your inspiration and encouragement.

  13. We’re in! We have already packed 3 – one for each of my children (who are old enough – my 20 month old will have to wait a year or 2). I usually take each child separtely to pick out items for their shoeboxes, but never thought about praying ahead of time about what goes into them – I want to remember that for next year!!

  14. We had a packing party. Our goal was 50 boxes and we ended up with 61. The children had fun making sharpie tie-dye shirts to include in the boxes at our church camp out weekend.

  15. Love it! Packing boxes is such a fun privilege. Count us in! {and your story of sharing Christ overseas made me tear UP} 🙂

  16. I’m so in. We’ve got three! And we’re tracking them too. First year doing it. Excited.

  17. Stacey Morgan says:

    We are in the midst of packing 10 boxes. Our church is a regional collection site with a big goal for ourselves. I love shoeboxes and have been doing so for years. I think this may be our 7th year.

  18. Amanda, I’m so excited to come back and tell you how our Merry Larry watch party this weekend, our packing party next weekend, and what part was my kids favorite part this year! They’ve already enjoyed the shopping, talking to other about it, and learning about OCC & other countries. Thanks for the challenge. I’m also encouraging my blog readers to participate so maybe I can add a few more to the goal of 100!

  19. We are doing boxes at Awana this year, and one Sunday school class already had a packing party! I will have to get a count!

  20. Mary Wolters says:

    I found your blog two years ago when trying to plan my own curriculum for Advent, and loved your Truth in the Tinsel so much I used that instead of recreating something that was done so well. Then I again at Easter time went looking for some quality activities to help impress the meaning of it all with my son. Your series on Children’s Bible Books also came right at a awesome time, as we had just were rehashing what age do you give up the fun picture Bibles and we were saying we wished there was one that had the text of the word with pictures still. No joke next day you blogged about the Beginners Reader’s Bible!!! We bought one right away and are loving that for many reasons. just want to say thank you for all your work and giving your time so graciously to share so many great tools for us all to teach our children about God. You are a blessing to way more than you realize and impacting many household for HIS kingdom.
    As far as the boxes, I have heard about it many times just never done one. This year I was planning to do it, and then you blogged about it and that post helped me know how to go about accomplishing it, so thank YOU. We plan to do at least two, maybe more still figuring out the details of how it all works.

  21. We packed 2! One to match each of the ages of our kids. The kids made personal note to include and we are tracking where they go. This is our 3rd year doing it. My oldest was really interested in helping this year. He would be so tickled if he recieved a letter back.

  22. We packed 2 this year! Our first year ever. A great lesson in giving for Olivia. Emily was thrilled!

  23. We have almost finished our three boxes! Love doing this every year with my son.

  24. We’re already set to pack our 3 boxes, one for each kid, and we’ve just had the idea to have a shoebox party. It’s a bit late to get really extravagant with that idea but I’m hoping to have at least a couple of other families over to pack some boxes together. I love the idea of praying specifically for the kids receiving the boxes.

  25. We packed three boxes! One for each of my kids to pack. I think that this year I will put a box aside to collect items throughout the year and we will aim for ten next year – two for each person in the family.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. We are in the process of getting our shoe boxes packed! I have always loved Operation Christmas Child, but packing boxes with my kids has taken it to a whole new level. I love seeing their excitement! This year, my oldest 2 have made rainbow loom bracelets for their boxes. And what a sweet reminder to PRAY for the kids who will receive it.
    Was Edison your translator in the DR?!! He was our translator when we were there!

  27. We turned out two last week. Great way to show the kids how they can love others.

  28. We are packing 3 boxes!

  29. Love it! This year we did something fun and had some friends (preschool – elementary) over for a “Christmas in August” shoebox party. In August, I put on the Christmas music, pulled down the easiest to get to Christmas decorations, baked gingerbread men for the kids to decorate, and printed off some About Me sheets from the Operation Christmas Child website. Since it wasn’t in the rush of the holidays, it was fun and relaxed and special for everyone. Now I get to pull the boxes out of the closet and take them to the drop location!

  30. My 4 kids also think this is great–they all donated their own money, helped to pick gifts and packed the boxes. We packed 12 boxes today!

  31. My boys (2 & 3) and I packed our first shoebox this year and delivered it to church this morning!! They loved watching the videos on the Samaritans Purse site and picking out gifts for our “special boy”. I loved seeing their desire to give and share. We are hooked and will definitely be doing this every year!

  32. Our kids packed 3 boxes today!

  33. This is our first year packing boxes for relation Christmas child. My two daughters are very excited. We are packing two boxes.

  34. Amanda, my church receives Operation Chritsmas Child boxes every year. We started 2 years ago to take the program to some indian villages (I live in the jungle of Venezuela!). For most kids, these are the only Christmas presents they get…it is so special to watch them unwrap the boxes and see their faces when we talk to them about Jesus!! I want to thank every person who makes a box… you are making a difference in these children´s life!!

  35. Becky Kankelfritz says:

    We packed 2 boxes! We’re going to drop them off later today.

  36. We just packed 2 more! That brings our family total to 4 🙂 Dropping them off at church this Sunday.

  37. my kids (ages 5 and 4) are each packing a shoebox! woo-hoo!!!!!

  38. We packed one up & delivered to our church last week! Our 4 year old boy loves shopping for this. Both last year and this year, he chose to shop for a little girl (wants a sister maybe? LOL!).

  39. We have participated in operation Christmas child for the past couple of years. This year my four year old used her birthday money to fill the box. Love that she wants to give to others

  40. We packed 2 boxes as a family and participated in the packing party at our local YMCA! There were 67 boxes packed there!

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  42. Amanda,
    I have served for 2 years with Operation Christmas Child. This year of 2015 I am so excited about
    what I can do as an individual. I have been collecting items since the day after we filled our 2014
    boxes and then in Denver for packing. I am always on the lookout for great bargains! I recently went
    to my regular grocery store. and found pencil bags for $.25, But yesterday I found a large amount
    of school supplies. I first asked if I bought all of them how much would it be? So I talked to the manager
    and he said he would talk to another manager and get back to me. He said he could give them to me.
    I haven’t heard from him yet but I’m praying that it will be free!! Thanks for your interest. Char Taylor


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