For those of you who aren't sure what packing an Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box is all about, Here's a quick video that explains the process and the purpose, of packing a shoe box through Samaritan's Purse. I f you've never packed a shoe box before, I implore you to watch this video, and then pack a shoe box! The impact you'll have on a child is greater than you could imagine!
If you've never packed a shoe box before, or even if you have, the prospect of choosing just the right quality items can sometimes be a little bit daunting. I've a packed many a shoe box over the years, but I still seem to get just a little anxious each time I start shopping for my box. This year though, I've scoured the web for the best tips and advice on how to build a better shoe box. I've watched a dozen or more videos and read quite a few posts, and I think I've got the perfect go to list for the perfect OCC shoe box!
Hopefully you'll find this list just as helpful as you prepare to pack your own Operation Christmas Child Shoe box!
How To Build A Better Shoe Box
1. Consider using a good quality plastic container the size of a regular shoe box. A plastic container can continue to be used by a child, long after a cardboard box falls apart. And through my research on building better shoe boxes, I've heard multiple times, that while many of us may be tempted to pack larger than normal size shoe boxes with the intention of "blessing the socks off a child", it can make other children around them feel like they are not quite as special. Keep you shoe boxes standard size. If you pack carefully, you can squeeze a whole lot of great stuff in a standard sized shoe box!
2. Don't limit stuffed animals to just the younger children. I read one woman's account of distributing shoe boxes in Grenada, and while there, she asked one of the older boys what his favorite shoe box item was. She was very surprised when he held up a blue striped teddy bear. Boys aged 10 - 14 could very likely appreciate a soft, cuddly toy just as much as a younger child. And I have to admit, with all of the OCC videos I've watched, every single child who pulls out a plush toy immediately snuggles it tightly to their chest. From now on, ALL of my shoe boxes will include a soft, cuddly stuffed toy!
3. Girls are girls, no matter where they live, and girls like girly things. Pretty bracelets, scarves, barrettes, etc. will bring much joy to any girl receiving a Christmas shoe box. Pack good quality, age appropriate costume jewelry in your girls' boxes!
4. Pack something super special that will stand out! A soccer ball with pump, a larger cuddly, stuffed toy, or a big toy car will make the child receiving your box feel absolutely overjoyed! While it's important to pack school supplies and practical items like tooth brushes and bar soap, don't forget to include something really fun! ALL kids like toys!
5. Purchase quality items. I know that shopping dollar stores can mean packing more items or more shoe boxes even, but please know, dollar store item quality is often far less superior. How tragic it would be for a child to receive a beautiful shoe box filled with breath taking treasures only to have them fall apart in just a few days time. While there are many items that I do purchase from dollar stores like paper supplies, name brand pens, pencils and coloring pencils, even books and some better quality toys, I do find that many of their toys are just really cheaply made. Purchase good quality items for your child's shoe box that will last!
6. Trust you gut. If you're feeling led to pack something that seems a little out of the ordinary, do it! I've never before packed a soccer ball in a shoe box, but last year, my 15 year old daughter was ADAMANT that we pack one for our 10 - 14 year old boy. I actually tried to sway her choice telling her we'd be able to pack more into the box if we nixed the soccer ball, but she was determined. And you know? I'm glad she was so insistent. Somehow, I just KNOW that the boy who received that soccer ball from my daughter got the gift of a lifetime!
7. Include a picture of yourself/your family. The child receiving your box will know that a real live family loved them enough to send them a Christmas gift. That in itself will speak volumes to a child.
Still need a little help deciding what pack in your child's shoe box?
Here's a list of 50 quality items that you can purchase to build a better shoe box!
2. bar soap
3. Tooth brush
5. Barettes/hair bands/pony tails
7. Under wear
8. Pens and pencils
9. Markers/pencil crayons/crayons
10. Coloring book
11. Note pad
12. Pencil sharpeners
13. Pencil case
15. Hot Wheels
16. Soccer ball with pump
18. Small rubber ball
21. Hacky Sack
22. Skipping Rope
23. Small Lego packs
27. Measuring tape
28. Small Hammer with nails
29. Colored Duct tape
30. Screw Driver with screws
31. Small sewing kit
33. Flashlight/extra batteries
35. My Little Pony with accessories
37. Small purse
38. Flyer airplanes
40. Plastic water bottle
42. Plastic animal figurines
43. String Backpacks
44. Stuffed animal
45. Finger puppets
46. Barrel of Monkeys
48. Rubik's Cube
50. Miniature Checker game
Do you have any other items that you just love to pack in your shoe box? Add them in the comments below! I'm ALWAYS on the lookout for more, great items to pack!