Okay, have we all sufficiently raided the chocolate out of the kids’ Halloween candy? Are you shifting your focus to the holidays ahead, looking for meaningful activities to do with your kids, wondering what simple and affordable ways you can give back? Did you know you can partner your kids’ fun & education with radical ministry for children half a world away?
It’s Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift time!
This is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, and anyone can do it! My kids–particularly our six-year-old–absolutely love this. He totally has the gift of giving, and he challenges me all the time with his grateful and generous spirit.
He started talking about our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes out of the blue at the beginning of October this year, and he literally begged me to take him to the store and let him use his own money to purchase some gifts for his “friend.”
The dollar store is a great resource. We got a four-pack of toothbrushes for $1 (although the free goodies your kids get at their dental check-ups are also a treasure mine), a pink hairbrush (Sis chose), toothpaste, toys, stuffed animals, small balls, etc. The dollar bins ar Target and Michael’s also have some great inexpensive and small items to incorporate.
We also raided our kitchen junk drawer to choose from the million colorful and as-yet unsharpened pencils to include. Remember to include a pencil sharpener and paper. I like little mini notebooks. We also add a little hard candy from Halloween, stickers, unused kids meal toys, and more. Our kids love hunting for just the right items to include in their gifts, and our kids prepare boxes for kids their own ages, so they can really relate and personalize the gift. You can choose the gender and age range for each gift box you pack. The few steps are easy and simple to follow:
There’s even a cute VeggieTales video to follow along! Or perhaps you have more of a Duck Dynasty fan?
[Click above image for the video.]
Okay, once you’ve covered the basics, I have a few personal thoughts about to take your shoebox gifts to the next level:
1. Use ziploc bags. I like to put the pencils, sharpener, and little notepads into a ziploc bag. Same with the toothpaste and toothbrushes. The ziplocs keep the items sorted, and that is nice, but what I really like is how functional ziploc baggies are even after the gift is opened.
2. Decorate the boxes. Whether you use your own shoebox, a bought plastic shoebox, or an official Operation Christmas Child shoebox, add a little decoration and personalization to the box itself. Remember, you’re wrapping a gift. So let the kids choose wrapping paper (remember to wrap top and bottom seperately), add stickers (my favorite because it’s easy for little hands to do), and color!
3. Write a letter! whether you draft your own, or use the printables on the Samaritan’s Purse website, please please please write a letter! [Or draw a picture for the itty bitty gift-givers.] Let these precious ones know that there is a person, a heart, a family attached to their gift. Let the child know that he or she is loved and valuable and of great worth! Tell him or her that you have prayed over this gift and for the person who receives it. Share a little about your life, where you live, what you do for fun.
And with your note, include a photo or two. Connect with the heart of a child. 🙂 You never know, he or she might even write to you someday, and your child will develop a friendship across the miles.
4. Register online. With each gift box, we are asked to include a $7 donation to help cover the cost of shipping these gifts internationally. I love to register and pay online (just remember to tuck the printout in the top of the shoebox). That way, you will receive notification of where your child’s gift actually ended up. That is amazing! I love to use this as a springboard to go and research a little about the country of destination and learn more with our kids about that culture.
5. Pray. Literally put the gifts on the dinner table one evening and lay hands on them and pray over them. Ask God to get them to the right hands. Ask God to bless a child who may not know Him personally yet. Ask Him to open little hearts to His life-changing and life-saving gospel. It’s an awe-filled thing that you are participating in.
Since your kids can gather a gift for kids their own age, they really take ownership and LOVE this.
And while Li’l Bro loves to give gifts, Biggie dreams of one day hand-delivering them. A future missionary, perhaps? Oh! My mama’s heart!
This is a great project to do as a couple without kids of your own, as grandparents, and as parents with kids of all ages.
So, before the madness of the season gets a death grip, won’t you consider orienting with this fun mission project activity and pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift! Wheeee!