From One Child to Another
Operation Christmas Child is a project for all ages! You can get the boys and girls in your family and at your church involved in so many ways… 1. Collect Items & Write Shoebox Notes Helping a child select items for a shoebox gift can teach money management, as well as a greater awareness of the plight of children in need. Including personal notes enhances the experience of praying for the shoebox recipient. Amy Ashberry, an Operation Christmas community relations coordinator from Mathews, Virginia, organizes shoebox shopping trips for children. During one outing, 19 kids and six chaperones traveled to a local discount store on a former school bus dubbed “The Shoebox Mobile.” That banner on the side of the bus caught the attention of a couple of people in the store parking lot, resulting in them giving donations to the cause. Amy had prepared for the Christmas in July activity by creating picture checklists for the children to use as a shopping guide. The group then packed the shoeboxes and made a card for each one—100 in all! 2. Pack Shoeboxes as a Family Children can offer unique perspectives on what kinds of gifts kids their age would like. Kim Sawyer’s grandchildren have inspired what they pack in shoebox gifts together, from a doll with a handmade blanket to toy cars. It was her 10-year-old granddaughter who encouraged her to start packing themed shoeboxes, beginning with a soccer focus. “It’s so fun to see her get so excited about gifting something to another child.” “It’s so fun to see her get so excited about gifting something to another child,” Kim said. “That’s the best part.” 3. Maintain a ‘Shoebox Workshop’ Operation Christmas Child project leader Mary Nix created a “shoebox workshop” at her church in Missouri, using a dual-purpose Sunday School room to house items for the church’s packing parties. With the help of volunteers, from children to retirees, she keeps an organized assortment of shoebox gifts in clear bins on wheeled, metal shelves. It’s a year-round effort of collecting, counting, and sorting the gifts by type, gender, and age category. In addition to helping folks realize when the church’s supply of shoebox school supplies or stuffed animal “wow” gifts are getting low, keeping shoebox items in a designated space is a way for people to visually connect with the project, Mary said. In addition to packing parties, there’s periodically a table of leftover items available at church that individuals or families can use to pack shoeboxes. 4. Vacation Bible School Connection This past summer, First Baptist Church in Hamilton, Alabama, made Operation Christmas Child the daily missions focus of its Vacation Bible School with stories and videos. Using shoebox items that the church had collected year-round, the children packed 95 shoebox gifts and wrote notes to go with each one. They placed the shoeboxes at the front of the church sanctuary and prayed for the boys and girls who will receive the shoebox gifts. “They were so excited about their shoebox going to help a child.” “They were clapping and cheering,” recalled Renee Clark, who organized the emphasis. “They were so excited about their shoebox going to help a child.” The boys and girls also competed in a “penny war” contest to support Operation Christmas Child. The church collected a total of $3,500 during VBS. 5. Share the Importance of Generosity You can use shoebox packing to teach the children in your life about God, His generosity, and ways they can share His love with others. Since July, children as well as adults at Harvest Fellowship Baptist Church in Smithfield, Virginia, have been giving to Operation Christmas Child. Building off a Vacation Bible School theme and hoping to generate children’s interest over the long haul, project leader Jean Foster set up a train station display and offering container in the shape of a bank. The creative presentation has encouraged children in the congregation to collect change and to earn money through chores to contribute to the fund. One girl in the congregation set up a lemonade stand in her neighborhood, raising $300 for Operation Christmas Child. So far, the bank depot has received over $2,000 in donations. In Washington state, Faith Carpenter and her three children have joined forces with another mom and kids in their community to pack shoeboxes and fund Follow Your Box. They sell baked goods as part of the neighborhood’s yearly garage sale. This year at their sixth annual bake sale, they raised a record high of $450. “Shoebox gifts are a way for my children to reach out to a boy or girl somewhere in the world,” Faith said. “It’s fun for them to put together a box and to see for themselves what a boy or girl will hold in their hands.” 6. Opportunities to Share Christ with Children Right Here From activity ideas to the GREATEST JOURNEY(TM) mobile game app, Samaritan’s Purse offers many family and children’s resources for free download to teach children on this side of the shoebox about God’s Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ. Amie Winstead, an Operation Christmas area coordinator in Tennessee, has held shoebox packing events at her church, inviting community youth to participate as a service project. For children, she uses the “Let’s Be Friends” free resource that can be ordered in color or downloaded as a coloring sheet. She has often made it a point to help a child fill out the shoebox note. This helps her get to know them better and learn where they are spiritually. In addition to finding out about the child’s favorite color, food, and activity, the sheet includes space to write what their favorite Bible story is and why they love Jesus. “Operation Christmas Child is great to use as an outreach to share the Gospel with your community,” Amie said. “It exposes children to the Gospel on this side of the box.” National Collection Week is on the way! It’s time to prepare shoebox gifts for drop off at a location near you Nov. 15-22.