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It’s National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child! I love that the collection week is before all the holi-crazy starts. It’s such a great beginning to the season when you can give first.
We started collecting for Operation Christmas Child in January because my daughter decided to pack 100 boxes this year. It began with her It’s a Small World party where she asked for OCC gifts instead of gifts for herself (oh, yes she did!) and has been our year-long project.
I’ve got a few semi-connected but important things to say about OCC instead of a Ten! Best! Ways! To! Pack! A! Box! So, let’s just talk a minute, ok?
First, some basics–when you pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, it is eaaasy to spend $40 on one box. Even at the dollar store you can do 20 bucks in a flash. This year, we tried to buy only things that were either a) more than one to a pack or b) less than one dollar.
We found boxes of crayons for 40 cents at Target. I found stuffed animals at Hallmark for 60 cents. We bought holiday clearance items. And one of my favorite ways we got toys was by making them. You know all those little craft boxes your kids get as gifts—the make your own bouncy balls and rainbow looms and sew a pillow and all that?
Lydia took all those that had been sitting around our house for years and actually did them so she could put the craft in the shoeboxes!
Her favorite was the Sew Cool Maker machine she got for Christmas. How cute is that little stuffed ice cream dish she made?!
We also asked for donations for our boxes. When we were in Colorado Springs earlier this year, we stopped at Focus on the Family and after a conversation with our tour guide, they gave us 100 Clubhouse magazines!
Now, why would we pack an English magazine in a box that could go to a non-English speaking country? Well, a few reasons: 1. How much would your kids love it if they got a magazine from Japan? All in Japanese? My kids would love to look at that! I’m pretty sure the same is true for kids around the world. There are lots of fun pictures and even games and coloring sheets inside. 2. When we went to the OCC Processing Center in Atlanta last year all the boxes being delivered that day were going to countries where English was spoken. That doesn’t mean English was the only language, but it was a normal language in that country. Chances are the kids who got our boxes last year spoke English.
I’ve heard enough stories about OCC to know that God can use anything in a box–maybe this year He’ll use an English magazine.
Lydia had a “must have” list that included soap, washcloth, brush/comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, crayons, magazine, notebook, pencils, pencil sharpener, socks, stuffed animal OR flip-flops OR cup. Then, we’d go around to our boxes of toys and stationery to fill in the rest. Most of our boxes ended up being for girls but we did our best to spread out the love for all kids.
So, here’s our basic girls’ box…
I’ve seen the real true heart and ministry of OCC first hand. Can I give you a few bullet points if you’re still on the fence about packing a box this week?
- OCC is not a splash-in-the-pan, white-Americans-come-to-save-the-day ministry. They partner with churches, schools and other local organizations to bring joy to kids. They help make these organizations the heroes in their communities.
- They are unashamedly gospel-focused. Each box is seen as one child and one opportunity for the gospel. OCC doesn’t hide their mission. They believe the hope and joy of a shoebox is because of Jesus Christ.
- Packing a shoebox changes the giver. When my kids pack a box (or 100), they are making a heart connection with the ministry and even the child who will receive the box. Asa hugs every stuffed animal before he puts it in a box. Lydia packs her boxes in a theme (all pink! all dogs!) because she knows an actual kid will open it and she wants them to see the thought she put into the box. My children will have a lifetime of caring for kids around the world because they packed shoeboxes. It sounds like hyperbole but I believe it’s true. My kids know that “the poor” and “the hungry” and “poverty” is actually a person.
Now I know what you’re waiting for…did we pack 100 boxes? Well, with our move we had to relocate shoebox-central to my parents’ house. We’ve spent several days over there doing homeschool and packing shoeboxes. Last count was 78. We are pretty sure we have enough gifts to pack the remaining boxes but we ran out of the actual shoeboxes! We’re hitting up TJ Maxx tomorrow to see if they have any empty boxes to share.
Keep watching on Instagram and I’ll update as soon as we’re done. She did it!!!!
Have you packed a shoebox yet? If not, please do!