Each year, our family likes to participate in Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child by packing shoe boxes full of gifts for children around the world. It's fun because we get to shop, pack and pray for the children without knowing where they will go. Then we purchase our labels online so we will have a tracking code and find out what countries our boxes went to.
Last year we only did a couple of boxes, but this year we got ambitious. We decided last Christmas that for every pair of shoes any of us bought, we would pack the shoebox full of gifts for a child, and whoever got the shoes would get to do the shopping and packing. Well at the end of the year we had 10 boxes to fill. Not all of them were from our shoes - we had a few boxes donated. We decided to do all the shopping together. That day was extremely fun. We all went to the dollar store and everyone picked whatever they wanted. We overflowed our cart - it was a blast.
When we got home, we sorted everything into piles. There were certain things every box got - a bag of hard candy, regular pencils, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, notebooks and coloring books (the oldest age group didn't get coloring books), socks, tooth brushes and toothpaste, soap, and a brush or comb. Everyone also got toys and fun things that differed by age.
We had a wide assortment of things to choose from for each box. This was only about 1/4 of the stuff.
Here is a full box. I think this was for a 2-4 year old girl.
My 6 year old son put together a box for a 5-9 year old boy. He kept referring to him as, "my boy." He picked some pretty awesome toys for a boy his age. He really enjoyed doing the boxes. Likewise, my 17 year old daughter put together two boxes for 10-14 year old girls. They had some really good stuff in them.
My husband worked specifically on a box for a 10-14 year old boy. He is a teen leader in our church and enjoys that age group. He's just a kid at heart anyway. His biggest problem was that his box wasn't big enough - or maybe it was that he couldn't stop putting stuff in it :) He eventually switched to a boot box that was considerably bigger. I think he was happy with that in the end.
Here are the boxes my daughter did for the 10-14 year old girls. Lots of fun, girly, pre-teen goodies in here, even if you can't see them all.
Here's another pile of the stuff we had to choose from.
When we were done filling our 10 boxes, we had quite a bit of stuff left. So rather than wait another year, we decided to get a few more of the necessities - toothbrushes, soap, etc. - to finish a few more boxes. The problem was that when we went to another store, we ended up with a LOT more stuff. We filled an additional 5 boxes, and then had more leftover stuff than we had to begin with. (Just to be clear, there's candy in this picture, but we will not be saving that for next year. They get fresh candy next year! I'm pretty sure my 6 year old has already claimed this loot.)
Here are some of the things we will save for next year.
You can see the two giant diaper boxes. The one that is open is larger than the one in the forefront. They are both crammed full of toys for next year's boxes.
So in the end we had 15 boxes.
That makes a pretty good pile! We are praying for each of the children who will receive one of our boxes. We included a family picture, postcard of the Teton mountains, which are within 100 miles of us, and a note from our family. We also included our address, and hope to get some letters. That would be awesome. If we get any, we are going to start a notebook with plastic page protectors to keep them in. Over a lifetime, I hope we can make a difference for hundreds of kids. We look at this as a double mission - meeting both practical needs as well as spiritual. We choose to give through Samaritan's Purse because they use this as an opportunity to teach children the Love of Christ. What better gift could we give a child for Christmas? The best part was that we got to do this as a family. Through these pictures you see everyone in my family who is still living at home. We have a 19 year old off playing with the Air Force, so he missed the fun here. It was so much fun for everyone in the family! We're hoping to do even more boxes next year!