Today as I was purchasing my children new shoes for school, I thought of Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child collects gifts for needy children all over the world which are sent in shoeboxes. Although the group that collects the boxes is a division of a religious organization called Samaritan’s Purse, you don’t have to be religious or practicing a certain religion to participate.
For many years, we had participated in the program, until I became a single mom raising 4 children. There was simply no money left to think about extras in those lean years, but we’ve come a long way since the lean years. I am now remarried and my husband and I have a son. Our family has been talking about ways we can give to others this holiday season and I think this may be a good way to do just that.
The organization Operation Christmas Child collects boxes for boys and girls in the following age categories: 2-4 years old, 5-9 years old, and 10-14 years old. My children usually ask to shop for a girl–probably because my older four children are girls! We usually choose the 10-14 age group since we were told that this is the group for which they get the fewest shoeboxes.
Once you’ve decided you want to participate, you can use an empty shoe box or a small plastic container and fill the container with small items for a child. I’ve been told that most children are thrilled when they see the plastic container because it can be re-used, but a shoebox will also do just fine!
I asked for some hints as far as filling the boxes. Some suggestions include school supplies, candy, small toys, clothing, and personal care items. Items which should NOT be packaged include war-related items like toy guns or knives, chocolate, out of date candy, liquids and lotions, medicines, or breakable items. Participants are encouraged to enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family.
Once you’ve finished collecting items and filling your shoebox, you can drop the box off at a Collection Center during National Collection Week which is November 17-24th. To find a Center location you can visit www.samaritanspurse.org. If you want to participate, but don’t live near a center, you can send your shoebox to:
Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child
801 Bamboo Rd.
Boone, NC 28607
I’m curious to hear if anyone out there has also participated in this program, or if you’ve done something similar to spread a little joy during the holiday season. If so, please post!