If you’re looking for ways to your family to spread Christmas cheer through giving, there’s no easier way than with an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift.
During National Collection Week, Nov. 16-23, more than 4,000 locations around the country will serve as collection sites for Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind.
The annual Samaritan’s Purse project is a favorite of many families, churches and groups who spread joy to millions of children around the world by filling shoeboxes with a “Wow” item, such as a doll or soccer ball, and other fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.
“Through the simple act of filling a shoebox, someone can make a tangible difference in the life of a child halfway around the world. Anyone can participate and bring joy to a child facing difficult circumstances,” said Randy Riddle, director of Operation Christmas Child in the United States, in a press release.
Residents around the country hope to contribute 8.6 million gift-filled shoeboxes to the 2015 global goal of reaching 11 million children in need. National Collection Week collection locations can be found using the Zip Code locator at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
If you want to pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, here are some gift ideas:
Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise.
School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books.
Non-liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths.
Accessories: T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights.
Crafts: Make your own items such as hair bows, finger puppets, and friendship bracelets.
Age and Gender-Specific items for a boy or girl ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14.
A Personal Note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
Shipping Costs: Please include $7 to cover the cost of shipping your OCC shoebox.
Don’t include any of these items:
Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.
After shoeboxes are collected, they travel to one of eight major processing centers across the U.S. in Atlanta; Baltimore; Boone, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Denver; Minneapolis; and Orange County, Calif. to be processed for overseas shipment.
Once the shoeboxes arrive in a country, they are delivered to needy children. Various means of transportation are used to reach distant villages including: canoe, helicopter, wagon and oxen.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.
Many Americans complain about the commercialization of Christmas. Instead of adding your voice to the chorus, do something to take back Christmas.
Take your kids Christmas shopping — not for themselves, but to choose gifts for children who will be delighted to receive a shoebox filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and love.