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Operation Christmas Child

Each season this year I’ve made a bucket list of fun activities I want us to do as a family.  Here’s our Fall Bucket List:

fall bucket list

So far we’ve done a Spring and Summer Bucket List.  As a part of each list I like to include a service activity.  I want to teach my kids the importance of service by serving together as a family.  One of my favorite ways to serve as a family in the past has been through Operation Christmas Child and we chose to continue the tradition this year.

For those of you unfamiliar with Operation Christmas Child it’s simple.  You pack a shoe box full of goodies (some toys, school supplies, hygiene products, etc) and turn in your shoe box to a collection center.  Samaritan’s Purse then sends the boxes all over the world and distributes them to children in need.  It’s a simple yet extremely beautiful thing.

Christmas Child box packed and ready to go

This year we chose to pack a box for a boy just a little bit older than A.  When I took him to the Dollar Tree to shop he was picking out things that seemed a little older than the 2-4 year range (what we did last year) and so I decided we’d pack a box for a 5-9 year old boy this year.  Here’s what we got:

operation christmas child ideasI let A pick out what he thought the boy receiving the box might like but encouraged him to make sure we had items covering 3 categories:

hygiene: soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes, tissues, & combs

toys: crayons, coloring book, football, snake, & monster truck

school supplies: pencils, pens, & markers

decorating the occ boxMy son decorated the outside of the box with stickers.

A few tips I’ve learned from doing this and reading about it for a few years:

  • tooth brushes are one of the most popular items
  • using a sturdy cardboard shoe box may be better than the plastic ones (sometimes the lids of those break in transit)
  • you can wrap or decorate your box but be sure that the lid can open
  • if you pay your $7 delivery cost online then you will be able to track where you box goes (Ours went to Iraq last year!)
  • the Samaritan’s purse website has some great videos that you can show your kids to help them understand what it’s all about

operation christmas child ideas up close

If you would like to pack a shoe box there is still a little time for this year.  This week is collection week so there is not a ton of time, but you could sneak one in.  The Samaritan’s purse website has detailed instructions for how to pack a box and what to do once you pack it.

Here’s a list of suggestions of what to include in your box:

  • Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
  • School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • Non-Liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
  • Accessories: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
  • 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.
  • Do Not Include: 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.
Mary Martha Mama