It's that time of year! This week (November 16 to 23, 2015) is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!
If your family has packed a shoebox gift, this is the week you need to make sure your box gets to a designated OCC drop off location. You can visit the OCC website to find a location near you.
Never heard of Operation Christmas Child? OCC is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief organization founded by Franklin Graham (son of famous evangelist Billy Graham). Each year people from the U.S., Canada, and several other countries fill simple shoeboxes with small gifts for needy children around the world. Shoebox gifts are always collected the week before Thanksgiving. OCC has blessed MILLIONS of needy children worldwide with gifts and the Gospel message!
Anyone can pack a shoebox for OCC! I have participated in this ministry since I was a teenager, and I am blessed now to pass on this annual tradition on to my boys.
Yesterday, Big Brother and I went "shoebox shopping" together. Before we left home we set a budget, decided how many shoeboxes we were going to pack, and determined the gender and ages for our gifts. (Shoeboxes should be designated for either a boy or girl, and the age categories are 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14). This year, Big Brother wanted to do 3 "boy" boxes: one for a boy in each age group.
We shopped at our local Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart stores. This is a very good activity for Big Brother because it gives him the chance to practice thinking about the needs of others rather than his own wants and desires.
We had so much fun shopping around and picking out specific items to go in each shoebox! Big Brother helped load and unload items as we checked out at the registers. When we got home, he helped to sort out the items into groups and we worked together to figure out the best way to get all the gifts to fit in each shoebox (this is not always an easy task!!).
Here's a list of what we included in our OCC Shoeboxes this year!
Each shoebox got:
-Travel size toothbrush & toothpaste
-Bar of Soap
-Baggie of Hard Candy
-Mini Thomas the Train Toy
Boy Age 2-4
-Small Bowl & Spoon set
-Farm Board Book
-Mini Elmo figurine
-Small Package of Wipes
- 2 Pairs of Mittens
Boy Age 5-9
-Tic-Tac-Toe Travel Game
-Mickey Mouse Coloring Book
Boy Age 10-14
-Same as 5-9 plus a small LEGO set instead of Slinky toy
-Also gave this box extra pens & pencils instead of a coloring book
Of course, the most important thing to pack in any shoebox gift is a PRAYER! We will be praying for the child who will be receiving each of these shoebox gifts. We pray that He will bless these children and give them an opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel. We also pray that the Lord will go before those who will distribute the shoeboxes and that each child will receive the exact gifts they need!
Be sure to check the website to see a list of items that are OK and items that are not OK to put in your shoeboxes.
A $7 donation is requested for each gift-filled shoebox that is donated to Operation Christmas Child. This just helps cover the cost of shipping these gifts to the uttermost parts of the earth. It also helps provide each shoebox recipient with a Gospel storybook in his/her own language and the opportunity to attend a Bible class where they can learn more about Jesus and receive a Bible. What a wonderful ministry!
We are blessed to have a Shoebox Collection Center (staffed each year by volunteers) located at a church less than 2 miles from our home. From this local drop-off point, our shoeboxes will then be transported by semi-truck to one of the OCC Processing Centers where teams of volunteers check each box for safety and prepare them for their journey to a needy child.
In recent years, OCC has added the "Follow Your Box" option so that we are able to see to exactly which country (or countries) our shoebox gifts go! They send an email that also gives lots of information about the country. This makes for a very meaningful geography lesson!
We usually try to include a personal note in each shoebox as well. If you are comfortable including your mailing address, the recipient of your gift might just send you a letter back! My brother ended up with a pen-pal from Malawi that he corresponded with for a few years as a child because of Operation Christmas Child.
So of you have not yet filled your shoebox for this year, you still have a little time! If are too busy to go out and shop, you can actually fill a box online!
This is such a simple missions project that practically anyone can do, and this ministry is really making and impact in the lives of desperate children in need of hope all over the world. I encourage you to consider joining us in spreading the love of Jesus to hurting little ones through the power of a simple shoebox!
Visit Operation Christmas Child for more information!