I love seeing the items grow in our basement for Operation Christmas Child. Okay, well, they don’t just grow by themselves, I should say they’re purchased! Anna and Mary diligently work at finding great deals throughout the year.
Anna, Mary, Anna Marie, and most of the nieces and nephews went shopping at back to school time in August. This was the perfect opportunity to get practical supplies for the boxes.
Currently, Anna and Mary are spending individual one-on-one time with the littles and letting them come over and help with shoebox projects. It’s adorable to see!
Two things to note when purchasing items: toothpaste and candy (crying face here!) are no longer allowed due to customs’ regulations. I know the Lord will give creativity when it comes to replacing those two items, as those both were favorites in our boxes.
So, we’d love to hear, how many of our readers are doing OCC? Please post below!
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep
himself unspotted from the world.”
We arrived at the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) warehouse Monday morning excited about our days of volunteering. After checking in and orientation, we were taken with some others to a processing lane.
There were 16 lanes, and on each lane, you could have 10-13 people working (or, as little as 5 if you had one side going, which we did a few times). Each lane was made up of two sides, where the exact same work was going on. The first person on the lane grabbed the shoebox from a big container, took off the rubber bands, and checked to see if someone had enclosed a donation for Samaritan’s Purse, and if so, you dropped it in the money box. This was called a pre-inspector. They then passed the box off to an inspector, who would check if there were any objectionable items such as liquids (definitely saw hand sanitizers, shower gels, and even snow globes!). If the box wasn’t full, they would add filler items that had been donated from many different places (often there would be two inspectors, so two pre-inspectors needed to keep four regular inspectors going!). Next, someone would secure the box with tape, and hand it off to a packer, who would put the shoebox in the proper age/gender box. If the label was a “Follow Your Box” scannable label, someone else would scan it.
We girls worked a variety of jobs, but my favorite was the pre-inspector! I really enjoyed seeing the creativity and love people put into their boxes. Anna was the master taper, and on Monday, she and another worker had taping-contests. Anna could really fly through her boxes, and that job requires strength and stamina (I know, because I did it for just a little while and came away with a big appreciation for all of Anna’s work!).
Mary was a cheerful helper, sometimes packing boxes into their ultimate shipping box, or scanning boxes, or inspecting or pre-inspecting—just wherever she was needed. She was also our go-to girl on items that might have been gray-areas if you had a question on that (“Hey, Mary, what about glow sticks?”).
Between the three days we volunteered, we worked with some super awesome people. Some came for just a morning, or some came for all week (Hello, Tammi, and Jim & Linda!), but we were all there with the same goal: to bless children! We talked, and laughed, and encouraged each other. We were truly a team.
Several times a day, everyone stopped working, and an OCC staff member led us in prayer, and we laid hands on the boxes. It was sobering to think we were the last people to handle the boxes before the children. And, oh, how exciting it was to hear Monday night, that boxes were already on a truck and headed down to El Paso, and then to cross the border to Mexico! Such precious cargo on its way!
Samaritan’s has distributed 120 million shoe boxes since their inception, and their goal is to never give a child a shoebox twice in their lifetime. I have to say, I used to wonder when they would hit market saturation. They won’t. Why? Listen to something that totally shocked me and made me realize that 9 million shoeboxes this Christmas is only a drop in the bucket. If OCC had taken all 120 million that they’ve given out since the 1990’s, and given that 120 million to India last year, 280 million children in India STILL wouldn’t have a shoe box. Y’all, that’s in India ALONE! Talk about amazing.
With that in mind, Denver’s processing plant still needs help these next 10 days to process the boxes. Their goal is 800,000, and they had reached the 400,000 mark when we were there, but that’s a little over half way, and their goal end mark is Saturday, December 17th. They encouraged people to invite friends/family/their church. And since we have a wide blog readership, I’m encouraging you to jump on board if you live in the general area, and help OCC out.
It’s an amazing way to share God’s love with little children in other countries! You won’t regret it!
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother
have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion
from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 1 John 3:17
It was so exciting to see how the Lord provided for 100 shoeboxes. Anna and Mary asked the Lord in faith for that many, and then they were diligent to put the time and effort into their Independence Day/Christmas Breakfast fundraiser. They’re very grateful for the donors who gave the money they needed.
Anna and Mary worked throughout the year on carefully buying items on sale in preparation for the boxes.
For example, after Resurrection Sunday (Easter), they bought tons of candy (non-chocolate). At back-to-school time, they purchased many school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, etc, for good prices. Since quite a few of the boxes were for little girls ages 2-4, they decided to make headbands (see links below). They purchased tons of stuffed cats and sets of play trucks from IKEA (side note: the girls need to start carrying shoebox brochures with them on their shopping days because the comments one gets when one is purchasing so many cats or so many washcloths?!!!). The trucks were high quality and came in sets of three, so even though a box was maybe $12, it ended up to be $4 per truck.
Here are some of the items we purchased from Amazon in bulk. That may help you out for next year’s shoeboxes if you’re interested. The links are Titus2’s affiliate, so see our disclosure here.
Remember the post about the little girls and Anna and Mary hosting a special breakfast to raise money for the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes? Well, the other day, Anna and Mary took the girls shopping.
This is the perfect time as school supplies are on sale. If you’re planning on doing shoeboxes, you should check your local Wal-Mart for good deals right now. For example, notebooks were $.17 each, slap rulers $1 each, 4-pack tumblers $1.78 (making each cup less than $.50!). Obviously prices will vary across the United States, but this is a great time! They also bought erasers, t-shirts, washcloths, normal rulers, and Crayons. They only got a small supply of Crayons, as Wal-Mart was doing inventory, and couldn’t bring out the supply in the back, so the girls will return for those later.
Operation Christmas Child is an awesome way to show love to others this Christmas! You can find out more here.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Joseph and my time at Operation Christmas Child was so exciting. I loved to think about how those boxes would bring HUGE smiles to the children receiving them. It was great to see boxes with notes. There were many “Ahh, look at this note!” moments to show the rest of the team an adorable note. Each was written with a lot of love. My other favorite was to see the boxes that were stuffed full.
I really enjoyed working with Joseph all the days too. When the brothers get married, it’s rare to get to spend that much time one on one with them like that! We both had fun getting acquainted with each step of the process. I think my favorite part was packing the shoeboxes into the box they’d ship in. It was a fun challenge for me to see how many boxes we could fit in. Fifteen had to fit in each one, but the more the better. The older kids tended to get bigger boxes, which took some creativity to get all 15 packed in there.
If you are considering doing shoeboxes this year, I would recommend doing either the older children or younger children. They have roughly double the middle age group. You might also consider doing older boys. They seemed to get the very least, and when I was looking through the boxes, I noticed theirs were often quite empty. Some ideas for their boxes would be tools, soccer ball and pump, fishing supplies, hat, shirt, flip flops, toothbrush and soap, candy, and certainly school supplies.