I often find myself wondering what I can do to help people less fortunate than I am. I’m blessed with so many things: I live in the U.S., have clean water to drink, a roof over my head, and a pantry full of food, just to name a few. For a long time, I’ve felt a strong urge to find ways to use the situation that I’ve been blessed with to help others. One of my favorite ways to do that is through Operation Christmas Child, which you may have heard of before. If you’re looking for a way to help people this holiday season, you should think about creating a box for Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas Child is a project where you put small gifts into a shoebox and take the box to a drop-off location. The boxes are then picked up and sent to underprivileged kids all around the world as Christmas presents. In addition to receiving the boxes, each child gets their own book of Bible stories that’s been translated into their own language. They also have the opportunity to enroll in a 12 lesson Bible class where they can learn more about the Christian faith. I read on the Operation Christmas Child website that for many of the kids, these boxes are the first gift that they’ve ever received. It’s a pretty cool opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
If you’re interested in creating a box, there’s still time! The Operation Christmas Child Website is a really great resource for info about putting together a box. Definitely check it out if you’d like to learn more about how to pack a box, guidelines for what is allowed in the boxes, FAQs, etc. National Collection Week is from Monday, November 16th to Monday, November 23rd, 2015. To find a drop-off location in your area, click here and put in your zip code.
I put together my box on Friday and dropped it off at our church this morning. I decided to pack my box for a girl age 10-14. At first, I thought I wanted to put together a box for a younger girl (age 5-9). My thinking was that it would be easier to find gifts for a little kid as opposed to a middle school aged kid. But then I had the thought that there may be more of a need for boxes for the 10-14 age group (the oldest one) because it seems to be harder to figure out what to get a preteen/young teenager. So I decided to go with the 10-14 age range instead.
I bought everything that I put in the box at Target and ended up spending around $20 on it. Oh and let me remind you if you haven’t been there lately: Target is even more magical at Christmastime. I honestly can’t even handle it. Anyway, tangent over. I wanted to share what I put in my box in hopes that it will give you some ideas if you put together a box of your own! So, here’s what I packed in mine:
A journal (from the $1 section) and a package of mini gel pens (bring back 90’s memories, anyone?!?).
A mini-Bible. I have to give credit to John for this one. He remembered that he had this from a day that a group passed them out at ACU after chapel. Most of it is written in English, so the girl who gets the box may not be able to read it, but on the off chance that she can, we decided to put it in.
Christmas-flavored Chap Stick. Because what pre-teen/young teenage girl doesn’t feel more sophisticated when she’s wearing Chap Stick!? (Note: lipgloss cannot be packed in the boxes because it’s a liquid, but lip balm such as Chap Stick is okay.)
A stuffed animal. I questioned whether I should put this in because the age range goes up to 14. But I decided to because stuffed animals are cute and they can be comforting. I mean, I still love stuffed animals! So on the chance that they might find it comforting or cute, I decided to put it in.
Bracelets. I thought the beads on these were cute (the beads on the white one are turtles and the beads on the pink are elephants). They were also just $1 each so they were an easy thing to add.
Life Savers and Tootsie Rolls. I have fond memories of getting both the Life Savers Storybook and the Tootsie Roll Bank in my stocking as a kid, so I thought these would be fun to put in. The nice thing about the Life Savers is that there’s a lot of them in the book and they’ll probably last quite a while. Both of these candies are on the approved candy list. Make sure you check out the list here before you buy any candy for the boxes (certain types are not allowed through customs in some places).
A toothbrush (speaking of candy). I read somewhere the other day that a toothbrush is one of the most helpful things you can put in the box because some children who live in orphanages don’t have their own and have to share one with the other kids. :(
Socks. As weird as it might sound, socks may be a luxury to some of these kids. These were $1 per pair in the dollar section.
A few other ideas I had for things you could put in a box are: washcloths, a light flannel blanket (if you folded it really well), a scarf, headbands, hairclips, a comb, and a compact mirror.
I’ve heard that Operation Christmas Child has translators available, so you can include a personal message to the child and someone can translate it for them. I love that idea, so I wrote a handwritten note and put it in the box.
Before I dropped the box off, I spent some time looking at the things that I had bought. I shed a few tears when I thought about how normal and every day these items are to me but how much they could mean to a child who lives in a third world country. I thought about how the very same stuffed animal that I bought would be held by a child in need. That’s one of the reasons why I love Operation Christmas Child so much. It’s such a personal, tangible way of giving to others.
Today I’m joining one of my favorite link-ups, which is Grateful Heart Monday. Participating in Operation Christmas Child makes me so grateful for the fact that there are thousands of people all over the world who want to help children in need have a gift for Christmas. Especially after spending the weekend hearing about the horrible attacks in Paris and many other tragic things going on around the world, it warms my heart to think about the fact that this ministry exists. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” -Desmond Tutu
Thanks for reading! You can link up with Ember Grey from the Grateful Heart Monday Linkup here!