UPDATE: my friend Cydil is a missionary in Albania and delivered boxes there last year. Take a minute to see pictures of kids in her community opening boxes last year (I love this!) Also, I spoke with my contact at Operation Christmas Child and they said candy IS allowed in American boxes, however Canadian boxes are now allowing candy this year (they ship to different countries and some of the countries who receive Canadian boxes will not accept candy.) Hope that helps!
I’m so excited because we just filled our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes! This is one of those ministries that’s just near and dear to our hearts, and I love that it allows my kids to help learn about ways to bless kids in other parts of the world.
Like I shared in the video, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch some of the Operation Christmas Child videos both on your own and with your kids. It will give you an idea of who you’re serving, and get you a wee bit more excited for the children who receive your boxes this Christmas.
A huge (huge, HUGE!) thanks to Hobby Lobby for sending us a $100 Hobby Lobby Gift card to fill our boxes with. We were able to fill 8 boxes with t-shirts, flip flops, bandanas, craft kits, yarn and so much more thanks to their generosity.
Curious what to pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for younger kids? Here you go . . .
- coloring books
- flip flops
- bar soap
- pencils & pens
- pencil sharpener
- duct tape
- travel size games – checkers
- deck of cards
- hacky sack
- yo yo
- glue sticks
- small stuffed animal
- pom poms
- small crafting kit
- post it notes
- small notebook
- watercolor paint sets
- play doh
- small etch a sketch
- back pack
- plastic cup
- jump rope
- leftover halloween candy that’s not chocolate (be sure to place in plastic bags)
- matchbox cars
- finger puppets
- silly putty
- wet wipe
- travel pack of tissues
- lip gloss
- hair ties
- band aids
- hair brush
For Older Boys:
- Tools – hammer, screwdriver, wrench or pliers, duct tape, measuring tape
- Fishing supplies – add in a small fishing kit, fishing line, hooks
- Plastic Magnifying Glass
- Collapsible water bottle
For Older Girls:
- Small sewing kit
- Clip on earrings
- Coin purse
- Sticky notes
- Watercolor paint set
- Colored Sharpies, highlighters or markers
- A friendship bracelet with extra string so they can make more
- Ink pad and stamp set
Also, here are a few ideas that Operation Christmas Child shared on their site as far as suggestions for all ages (as well as some items not to include):
- TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
- SCHOOL SUPPLIES: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
- NON-LIQUID HYGIENE ITEMS: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
- ACCESSORIES: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
- A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
- DO 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.
National Collection Week for Shoeboxes this year is November 16-23, and if you’re not sure where to drop off a box in your area you can go HERE to find a local collection site. They do ask that you also give a donation of $7 per box to cover the cost of shipping – learn more about that over HERE and donate online as well.
Additional tips that may help:
- Pack toothpaste and soap in a plastic bag to keep the scent from taking over the whole box and so that nothing leaks.
- Remove packaging from your items so that you allow for more room in your box and so that they don’t have much trash to throw away.
- Don’t send anything that has directions/writing in English (i.e. toys with instructions, games that require kids to read English.) Since these boxes go to non-English speaking country it’s worth only including things that are understood internationally.
- Read more great tips and suggestions from a missionary in the field over HERE.