There are many great causes throughout the year that offer support and help to those less fortunate. When the Christmas season begins to rev up (that’s around March, right?), some specific giving opportunities move to the forefront. My favorite one is Operation Christmas Child. I know many of you may be wondering what to put in Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
While it is always a great thing to be able to give (more than the 3 gift Christmas rule that I like to follow) and provide a shoebox, it’s important to be mindful of what is included in your gift. They do NOT accept everything and it is really important that we don’t waste others’ time by having to throw boxes out because they get ruined.
NOTE: This post was updated in October 2022
If you are unfamiliar with Operation Christmas Child from Samaritan’s Purse, you can read more about it. Basically, you pack a shoebox with gifts and Samaritan’s Purse sends it (along with other shoeboxes) to children as a Christmas present and outreach.
Many businesses and churches host packing parties where you do it together, which is something I LOVE to do with my kids during the holiday season! I plan for Operation Christmas Child in my money-saving budget planner for this every year. I try to have Christmas on a budget every year, and including items like these helps me stay on task.
When I started learning how to budget for Christmas, it was suggested that I add a giving category. If you are interested in learning how to budget, you can grab the free budget pack here or click on the image below.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Operation Christmas Child made some modifications that I think were amazing and stuck with us through the pandemic.
During the pandemic, they created a digital option so you can build your shoebox online. You simply choose a donation range, whether you want to build your box or have it created for you, select the gender and age range of the child you would like to give to, and then add some pre-selected ideas into the virtual box. This option is also available for churches and similar organizations that want to have a group goal of donations.
Some items are not permitted due to obvious reasons, but you should try to review and consider each item before including it in your shoebox. For example, if you want to send a CD, that is allowed, but the child receiving the CD might not have a CD player. There could even be the potential for that child not to have access to reliable electricity where they are located. So, while you are able to send a CD, there are more aspects of that CD to consider.
Unfortunately NO. No type of candy is allowed in shoebox gifts, due to increasing customs regulations. Chocolate is a definite no-no due to the hot temperatures in many of the climates the shoeboxes are shipped to.
No, they do not. They keep them intact. Consider using the free boxes that OCC distributes. These are called “Go Boxes.” This helps out in many ways: First, they are lightweight and cost less to ship. Second, They are perfect for fitting into the larger cartons that they are packed in before shipping overseas. At the processing center, you can fit 23 OCC Go Boxes into a shipping container, this is the ‘perfect’ box and costs much less to ship.
You want to write something thoughtful and kind. Include a bible verse and a picture of your family. I always like to include my return address so that they can write back if they want to. Often times the kids will write back a thank you note and send a picture that they drew.
If an item requires batteries, it’s also a good idea to include extra batteries as those might not be available to the child. And please note that loose batteries must have both ends covered according to the packing tips.
Many of our readers have shared to use discretion when choosing popular superheroes for toys or on clothing items. Remember they may unknown in other countries and could come across as scary to children there.
Other Helpful Information to Know:
Samaritan’s Purse provides a great FAQ that gives a lot more information on what can be sent and any restrictions. It’s super simple!
Other than a great opportunity to bless a child for Christmas, Operation Christmas Child offers your family a great project to help focus on considering others. Help round out this experience by discussing the reason for the shoebox with your children. Your child might not have considered that other children don’t have the same kind of life that your child has. What a great way to reach out and share your love while teaching your child to learn about other areas of the world!
As we try to spend less on Christmas presents and more on giving, this is a great opportunity to give back!
Preparing an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift is a perfect chance to open your child’s eyes to blessing others and maybe even sow a seed in your little one to reach out to others around the world and locally.