What is Operation Christmas Child?
Launched in 1993, this amazing project from Samaritan’s Purse changed the way the world did Christmas! In the last twenty-three years, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered over 135 million shoeboxes to children spanning 150 countries and territories around the world–and that, to us, is pretty darn impressive.
With Operation Christmas Child, individuals, families, churches and other organizations can pack shoeboxes full of gifts and put a smile on the face of a child thousands of miles away!
How Can I Get Involved?
Easy–pack a shoebox! Parents often use this time of year to teach their own children about the value of giving. Your kids will love thinking about that mystery child and deciding what they would like for christmas! Operation Christmas Child is a great way to broaden your child’s horizons and give them the opportunity to care–after they pack one, they’ll want to pack a dozen more!
Where Can I Get A Shoebox?
Under your bed, in the attic, at the back of the closet are good places to start! But if you don’t have any shoeboxes of your own, you still have a few options. Firstly, you can go to your local dollar store and find a clear plastic shoebox (or as many as you need!). You can also go to your local church, YMCA, library or Chick-Fil-A to grab a pre-printed official Operation Christmas Child shoebox!
What Goes in my Shoebox?
Great question–there are some items that can and definitely can’t go in your shoebox. And there’s an easy few steps to follow to make sure your box is just right!
“Wow” Item! First, you want to find a large, centerpiece toy. This can be a full-size ball with a pump or a full-size doll. Don’t forget about a large toy car, musical instrument, new shoes or a new outfit! Your “wow” item will be the very first thing your Operation Christmas Child recipient will see when they dig into their box–so go with something you think would make a kid smile!
Toys: Of course! You can pick several small toys that your recipient child can play with right away! Jump ropes, yo-yos, etch-a-sketches…Hot Wheels cars are popular for little boys and girls alike, as are stickers, coloring books and colored pencils (with a manual pencil sharpener included!). Remember NOT to pack silly putty, play dough, crayons, or any other toys that melt or change their state when subjected to extreme temperatures. Also, toy weapons (plastic guns, including water guns, toy knives, grenades, etc…) and military-related items are not permitted.
School Supplies: A great addition to your shoebox is a collection of useful school supplies. Notebooks, paper, solar calculators, pencils (with a manual pencil sharpener), erasers, colored pencils and markers…all of these are perfect for a child! If you add a journal, you could write a page about who you are and even include a photo of you and your family–your kids around the world will love the personal touch. (And there are translators at the unboxing, so your message will come through loud and clear!)
Hygiene Items: Feel free to include some useful and age-appropriate hygiene products too! Toothbrushes, bar soap, toothpaste, deodorant, water bottles, combs, brushes, and washcloths are all welcome additions! If you’re packing for a girl, you can also include a number of small accessories–like hair ties, hair clips, jewelry, soft headbands, etc! It’s important to note that liquids and aerosols aren’t permitted, as they can leak or explode. Also, please don’t include razors of any kind!
Clothing: If you can throw together an outfit, then you can pack a shoebox! Depending on what age group you choose, there are tons of clothing options! Include socks, t-shirts, sandals or tennis shoes, even hats and sunglasses! Getting a fun new outfit is the perfect Christmas gift for kids around the world!
Candy: Operation Christmas Child has expanded their criteria to include all hard candy, gum, taffy, caramels and gummy bears! Just be sure the expiration date is at least six months after “Collection Week” (usually in the end of November).
A Personal Touch: Here’s where you can get really creative! Include photos of you and your family, a personal letter written by your child, a drawing, or even a special craft! Your child can make a friendship bracelet for herself (or himself) and one for your beloved box recipient! Any handmade items are more than welcome and definitely encouraged–finger puppets, hair bows, or anything else you can think of!
(DO NOT INCLUDE: weapons, toy weapons, military toys or figurines, chocolate, food or expired candy. No fruit snack, roll-ups, dairy or other perishable items. Drink mixes (powdered or liquid); no liquid or lotions, aerosols are not permitted. Also, no medications, vitamins, alcohol, breakable or fragile items!)
Why Should I Get My Kid Involved?
Your child has a lot to gain from this project of giving! They can choose to pack a box for a boy or a girl in three different age brackets–2-4 years old, 5-9 years old, and 10-14 years old. Whichever they choose, encourage them to really think about their recipient and select items thoughtfully. This practice in selflessness and love will enchant your child–and they’ll want to pack a shoebox every year! Get your child into the spirit of giving with Operation Christmas Child!