Pinterest is filling up with awesome ideas for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes sponsored by Samaritans Purse. We participate in this ministry every year and have lots of fun planning, purchasing for, and
filling, stuffing, cramming our boxes full of goodies for children.
Here are some universal boy/girl suggestions for every box ~ necessities that we take for granted but are precious to children without these items ~
*toothbrush/toothpaste ~ Dollar tree takes coupons now so you could match up your toothpaste coupon with the equivilant Dollar tree size and get it for really cheap. Otherwise the least expensive place we have found is Walmart. I get all the toothbrushes at Dollar Tree ~ 4 or more in a pack for $1, and I try to get the ones with a cover on them.
*comb ~ or more than one ~ you can get a lg. pack at Dollar Tree
*washcloth/soap ~ if you travel, you can collect the ones from your hotels, tuck 2 or 3 into a ziplock baggie with the washcloth. One year we got ambitious and crocheted the washcloths. Usually, we buy a big pack at Walmart ~ 10 or 12 for $3 or so.
*t shirt ~ look for clearance carts where you shop, we have found some for .25 before!
*socks ~ a big pack of white athletic socks from Walmart can be split between several boxes...their back to school sale is a good time for that purchase. Dollar Tree has some cute print girlie socks that we like also. Usually come in 2 pair packs.
*notebook/pencils ~ a basic, across the board school supply...shop the back to school sales. Sometimes you can get pencils for .01 a pack at Staples or Office Depot. Spiral Notebooks are often on sale for .10 or .15 at Walmart or Target. Add in a pencil sharpener too!
*crayons/markers ~ again, back to school sales...we can find 24 ct. crayons for .20 at Walmart. Watch the ads for the good sales.
*tote bag/backpack ~ this needs to be an easy to pack, lightweight, not bulky bag or pack. There are lots of free tutorials/patterns on the internet. Here is a link to one I found ~ http://www.allfreesewing.com/Sew-for-Kids/The-Picnic-Pack
*cup/utensils ~ I heard about the cup idea last year...why did I never think of this before? All my boxes will have cups now! Dollar Tree & Walmart are a good place for these. Or, you could use those plastic cups you get at restaraunts ~ we've got lots of those. Reusable plastic forks & spoons would be great to include also.
*flip flops/shoes ~ again ~ Dollar Tree
*activity books ~ word search, coloring, matching, etc ~ we found a cart at a local store that had these type books for .25. I bought a lot!
*Stuffed Animal/doll/lovey ~ after holiday sales are great for these ~ we've done bunnies, gingerbread dolls, baby dolls, etc. Anyone still have 10 zillion beany babies still in packages? We've included them also. Lots of patterns available for free online for dolls & clothes.
You can buy multiple items in a pack and split them up between several boxes.
We plan for this all year long ~ pretty much as soon as we drop off our boxes, we start shopping for the next year. If you set aside X amount of dollars every month specifically for this ministry, you will have quite a collection of goodies & even some freebies by the time shoebox time rolls around the following November. We do shopping monthly for our boxes, but always need to do a last minute run to the store for a forgotten item ~ one year we forgot to buy toothpaste! Look everywhere, in clearance bins for stuff ~ we found the rubber band bracelet packs at the grocery store last year for .25 and then they went to .10. The clearance bins in the front of Michaels are good sources of items too. Watch for the Target Dollar Spot items to go 1/2 price or lower.
If you don't want to pack a box ~ you can donate items to a church that participates in this ministry or donate directly to Operation Christmas Child to either help pack boxes or ship the boxes overseas.
Items NOT to include in any boxes ~
food (hard candy or tootsie rolls are ok)
war toys (no soldiers, tanks, toy guns, etc)
knives (scissors are ok in the age 10-14 older child boxes)
If you are on Pinterest ~ look for boards entitled Operation Christmas Child or Shoebox gifts. People have come up with some wonderfully creative ideas and share with everyone! Some share how they coupon to get their items for free or almost free.
There are many testimonials of children who receive these boxes and its the exact item that they needed ~ socks or a pair of shoes. Items we take for granted are treasured by others.
Next time ~ what to pack in girl boxes ~ in addition to the items listed above!