Operation Christmas Child Year Round

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For the first time this year, I participated in a shoebox packing party for Operation Christmas Child, and from here on out, my family will forever be a part of this holiday giving experience.

Operation Christmas Child was created by Samaritan’s Purse in 1993. Every year, they send millions of gift-filled shoeboxes to needy kids all over the world. This year’s goal is 11 million! Each shoebox is filled to the brim with toys, school supplies and essentials like socks, toothbrushes, soap and even shoes!

(Multiple values) Bethel Healing Center in Masaka, Uganda.

Our team packed all of those items plus a ton of other things like flashlights, deflated balls with pumps, stickers, hair accessories and jewelry. It’s crazy how much you can actually pack in a regular shoebox. My husband who’s a pro at packing really got into it. He put stickers and tiny animals and balls inside socks and then put those socks inside a cup and put that cup inside a bag and put that bag… well you get it. I’d love to see the look on the faces of the kids who get his boxes! They’ll be pulling out fun stuff for days!

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Once you have your shoeboxes ready with all the goodies, mail your gift-filled shoebox to our headquarters at 801 Bamboo Road, Boone NC 28607 or year round, you can build a shoebox online.

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Want to get a start now for next year?   That’s what I plan to do. I brainstormed a few ways that we can get started:

  1. Create an Operation Christmas Child bag and put it in a place where you and your family are reminded throughout the year to fill it… maybe in the laundry room, office or playroom.
  2. Save your party favors. A friend gave me this idea and I think it’s genius! Usually those little trinkets get played with for an hour or two, and then they get lost at the bottom of the toy box. Instead, throw those favors in your bag and they’ll be ready for a shoebox.
  3. Once a month or every couple of months, spend those craft store coupons on a small toy or stuffed animal.
  4. When you clean out the toy box, don’t take everything to Goodwill or sell it at a garage sale. Instead, save those gently used small toys for a shoebox.
  5. The dollar store is a great place to pick-up affordable items throughout the year, so whenever you go to the dollar store, make it a point to buy something for your shoebox.
  6. If you like to go to garage sales, be on the lookout for small toys and stuffed animals. I hit the jackpot this year when I found a woman selling beanie babies. She sold me a handful for a dollar. You can’t beat that!
  7. Save those toothbrushes and toothpaste packs that you get from the dentist.
  8. When you buy school supplies at the beginning of the school year for your kids, buy a few extras for Operation Christmas Child. Better yet, go back to the store after school’s started and buy the extras on clearance.
  9. If you order the kid’s meal at a restaurant, save the toy for your shoebox.
  10. When it comes to the money to send the shoebox, get your kids involved. Create an Operation Christmas Child jar that they can contribute to with their birthday or Christmas money.

Great list, but the trick is remembering to do all these things throughout the year. So my plan is to put them in my calendar on different days and different months. That’s pretty much my brain and how I remember everything.  After a while though, picking up these items will become second nature. Your kids might even remind you too.

And isn’t that what life’s all about? Whether it’s the holidays or just another ordinary day, our children need to learn to be givers to the neighbors we know down the street or children around the world that we will never meet… and so do we.

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“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

 

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The last few years have brought big changes for Emily. After spending years in high-stress, deadline-driven TV jobs in East Coast metros, family circumstances brought her and her husband Joel to the Arizona desert. Now this former news junkie is a stay-at-home mom to Miles, a fast-talking toddler with energy to spare. She spends her days teaching him about faith, letters, numbers and manners. Whenever he’s asleep she boots up the laptop to write for North Phoenix Moms Blog and other freelance gigs. Whatever spare time she has left is spent on a hike with her family or a rare date night with Joel, at the gym, coffee and dinner with friends, or in her craft room creating simple, beautiful jewelry for her online boutique, Hazel & May, and giving too many treats to her pups, Pepper and Gizmo.

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