A tradition that we have carried over from our former marriages is making boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Since we have a blended family, this is a great tradition to continue. Our children enjoy picking out items to pack in the boxes. If you are interested in adding this tradition to your family, here is how you do it (see also http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/ ) :
1. Get a box.
When Operation Christmas Child (OCC) began years ago, it started with shoeboxes. Now, OCC has special boxes that you can purchase. Our church donated to OCC so that they could offer us the boxes for free. We have heard that some of the Christian book stores are also offering those boxes. If you don’t have a shoebox or can’t get one of OCC’s boxes, a plastic “shoebox sized” box works just as well. In fact, many people prefer to use the plastic boxes so that the children will be able to keep them for later use.
2. Pick the child that you will be giving to.
Boy or Girl. Ages 2-4, 5-9, 10-14. We did three boxes this year. Typically, we have each child do a box and then the adults do one. Our children picked a Girl (age 5-9) and a Boy (age 5-9). We chose to do a Boy (Age 10-14), as that is the group that receives the lowest amount of boxes every year.
3. Make a list of what you want to include in the box.
This began as a wish list. We listed the obvious things, such as the necessities like toothbrush, toothpaste or soap and the nonessentials like toys. Then we began to put ourselves in the shoes (pun not intended) of the children we were giving to. What would they like or need. Those items that we felt were absolutely necessary to the box, we marked with an asterisk. The great thing about this is that there is lots of information on the web to help you with ideas.
NOTE: One of the most moving things we read when researching what to put in our boxes, was a child’s thank you for receiving simple white underwear. It was from a upper age boy who talked about the embarrassment he felt not having underwear and how he cried when his box included some. We had not even considered the idea that the pre-teen children would benefit from things like underwear, deodorant and feminine products (for the girls)
4. Go shopping.
Do this as a family. Dollar stores are great places to begin. Here is a list of things that we purchased for our three boxes: For all three boxes, we got pens, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, solar calculators, pencil case, combs, toothbrush, toothpaste, toothbrush case, wrapped hard candies, wash cloth, mild soap, flip flops, underwear, socks and marbles. For the younger boy, we added hot wheels car, ball and stuffed animal. For the older boy, we added playing cards, hot wheels car, deodorant, ball, and tools. For the girl, we added stickers, notebook, doll, and stuffed animal.
5. Assemble your box.
Even though we purchased new items, we took almost everything out of its wrapping so that we could fit the most things possible inside the box and so that the children would not have a lot of trash to get rid of.
We put pencils, pens and erasers inside of pencil cases and tucked hard, wrapped candies into the little crevices.
We rolled up clothing.
We took the bars of soap out of their boxes, put them into sandwich bags and wrapped them in wash cloths.
Basically, we stuffed the boxes.
6. Add a label to the top of the box.
Check mark a boy or girl label for the age group that your box is for. You can get these labels in the pamphlets with the free boxes, or they are available to print on the OCC website.
7. Close up your box.
Close your box and put rubber bands around it to keep it closed. You can wrap your boxes with wrapping paper, but if you do, wrap the lid separately from the bottom because the boxes have the be opened by the staff of OCC before they can be shipped.
8. Donate for shipping costs.
Each box costs $7.00 to ship. You can write a check for the shipping and put it inside the box or you can pay it online – it is considered a donation. We chose to pay it online because that option allowed us to print off labels with tracking on them. When our boxes are shipped to the children, we will be emailed to tell us what country our boxes went to. It’s just an added bonus!
As a family, pray over the boxes. Pray for each of the children receiving them and for God to use the boxes to draw these children to Him.
10. Drop your box off.
Take your box to a collection site. You can find one online at OCC’s website. Our church is also a collection site so we will be taking our boxes there.