Today I am sharing one of my most favorite projects with you. It’s one that our family participates in every year and gets a lot of joy out of doing. In fact, you may also do it with your family or at least have heard of it–it’s called Operation Christmas Child.
What is it? Operation Christmas Child is a ministry run by Samaritan’s Purse that brings Christmas gifts to children around the world. Basically, people can get a shoebox or shoebox-sized container and fill it with toys, candy, school supplies, and hygiene items that an impoverished child would delight in receiving. Samaritan’s Purse has distribution centers set up that then work at delivering these shoeboxes to many different countries, having them ready for children to open on Christmas day.
To me it is an easy, practical, and fun way to bless someone else around the world. We not only do this as a family, but for the past few years I have gotten my Sunday School class involved as well (I teach elementary aged kids). I believe it helps teach kids an attitude of giving rather than getting. They LOVE putting these shoeboxes together. Here’s some pics of what we did this past Sunday:
The week before I usually make a huge trip to The Dollar Tree and buy a bunch of items at once. The Dollar Tree often has about everything we need to put in these, including the plastic shoebox-sized tubs I like to use. Often I end up with a big cartload and people look at me like I’m nuts! I then set up an assembly line of all our item choices–school supplies, hygiene items, toys, etc… The kids get to choose whether they want to make one for a boy or a girl and also the age group it will be for (2-4, 5-9, 10-14).
After they’ve chosen the gender and age and I go over some of the rules, I pretty much let them go to town picking out things and putting them in their boxes.
Often after we have our boxes assembled I have the children each make a card for the child who receives their box. However, this year we got these wonderful preprinted worksheets where they can fill out info about themselves, including their address if the child wants to correspond with them. One year our family did get a letter from a boy from one of the West African nations who thanked us for his box.
If you would be interested in more information on these, check out samaritanspurse.org. It really is a wonderful way to give back and bless a child who may have never gotten a Christmas present before. Oh, and in case you want to get started, I though I’d share some things that we typically put in our boxes:
Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, lip balm, pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, stickers, crayons, playdoh, bouncy balls, jumpropes, slinkys, matchbox cars, small books or notebooks, markers, barrettes, headbands, toy jewelry, tops, small frisbees, small stuffed animals, candy, gum, lollipops