Operation Christmas Child: Packing Shoeboxes for Children, with Children

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It’s something my husband and I have done for years and years: packed a shoebox or two full of toys and hygiene items and candy and trinkets for a child overseas. It’s not hard. It’s not very costly. And yet, it can change another child’s life.

I learned this firsthand when I got to hear Alex, a recipient from Rwanda, speak at the Allume Conference last year. (I would urge you to watch this video about Alex’s testimony, although please screen it before you show it to your kids. There is a lot about the genocide and war in Rwanda.) Alex’s life and heart were truly changed, all because someone cared enough to pack a little shoebox – and then Samaritan’s Purse was able to minister to him, following up with him, continuing to share the gospel story with him.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, and literally millions of boxes have been delivered worldwide since the ministry’s inception in 1993. Personally I think OCC is an amazing way to introduce your children to the ideas of poverty, giving, and having a multicultural worldview.

Here are some tips for packing shoeboxes with your own children.

  • Let them choose which gender and age group to pack for. Often kids will want to pick out things that they like themselves – so maybe choose to pack for a child the same age and gender as your own.
  • Add homemade elements: ask your child to make a Christmas card, write a letter, or draw a picture to go in the box. If he or she is older, maybe he can crochet a small scarf or sew a fleece lovey or even make a rubber band ball.
  • Explain gently that these will probably be the only gifts this child will receive this Christmas. Answer questions in a straightforward and truthful manner, but don’t over-explain.
  • Pray over the boxes and ask God for guidance on what items this child will need.
  • Make sure to include hygiene items, even though they aren’t as much fun. What toothbrush and toothpaste do you kids like? What soap? What about a comb or brush? A trip to the Dollar Store can go a long way to completing your shoebox with toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, bar soap, and a few fun hair bows.
  • Remember the rules! Here are the items you should not include: used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Will you pack a shoebox this year? Even if you don’t have time to shop, you can still put one together online on the Samaritan’s Purse site for $25. Smart!

Box drop-off is November 17-24. If your local church is not collecting boxes, you can find a collection site here.

Friday Links 10/12

 

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Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

A Lemonade Stand for Shoeboxes in South Carolina

 

Laurie Hanson — mother of two in Elgin, South Caronlina — had no idea the lemonade stand her 7-year-old daughter started in 2007 would turn into a project that impacts the lives of hundreds of children around the world each year.

This simple lemonade stand and its global impact began when Laurie’s daughter Grace learned about Operation Christmas Child — a global project that hand-delivers millions of gift-filled shoe box to needy kids. Grace wanted to pack 21 boxes; but with the tough economy, her mother Laurie didn’t know how to pay for the toys, school supplies, and hygiene items needed to fill the box.

operationchristmaschild.jpgThat’s when they decided to sell lemonade. One Saturday morning, Grace and her friends got up early, put on their homemade aprons and hair bows, and served lemonade at a neighborhood garage sale. In five hours, the girls made 74 dollars, and their efforts were covered by a local news station.

After seeing the kids on TV, a manager of a local grocery store invited them to set up their stand outside his store. That year, Grace and her friends made enough money to double their goal and packed shoe box gifts for 42 kids they had never met.

"We have lemonade stands to help kids all over the world who don’t have anything,” said Grace. "I feel good when I imagine the kids opening their boxes of goodies and smiling."

Today, the “Lemonade Gang” — as they are known — is a neighborhood staple. Since 2007, these young kids have raised more than $5,000 and packed more than 330 shoe box gifts for needy kids worldwide. Each year, they hold 3 to 6 lemonade stands, involving 30 kids, at nearby grocery stores and the local Wal-Mart. In the fall, they have a huge shoe box packing party.

This year the Lemonade Gang hopes to pack more than 200 shoe box gifts for Operation Christmas Child. And, they are well on their way to this goal. On Memorial Day weekend, their first lemonade stand of 2010 made close to $1,000.

“Selling lemonade to benefit Operation Christmas Child is a fun and inexpensive way to show your kids they can make a difference in the lives of others,” said Laurie. “It’s an opportunity to show them how to share Christ’s love with others.” This year Operation Christmas Child — the world’s largest Christmas project — plans to hand-deliver 8.2 million shoe box gifts to needy kids in 100 countries

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Wow! I am so inspired by what these children have done. Watch the video to see interviews with Laurie Hanson and some of the kids involved.

Remember that this week is National Collection Week for the OCC shoe boxes. As my friend OhAmanda shared this week, this shoe box may be the ONLY present the recipient gets. EVER. I have shed tears over the two shoe boxes I delivered to church this morning for two little preteen girls. I don’t think twice before dropping $25 on some clothes for my toddler … and yet $25 worth of toys and headbands and school supplies might make a difference in a child’s life.

A little lemonade can go a long way! —Jessie, Resident Blog Guru