December 30, 2013

How to Make an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Filler Collection Box

Several years ago we wanted to collect items for packing shoeboxes in our AWANA clubs at church.  The kids' church leader wanted to have the kids pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child in their Sunday morning program and needed fillers.  So we took empty copy paper boxes and made giant wrapped shoeboxes as collection receptacles.

How to make an Operation Christmas Child filler collection box.

I cut a large hole in the top of the lid for the items to be dropped into.  I wrapped the top and bottom

December 27, 2013

Aunt Norni's Simple Crochet Shell Mini Blanket ~ Designed for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Simple Crochet Shell mini-afghan pattern designed for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

My mother-in-law, dubbed "Aunt Norni" by her eldest nephew when he couldn't pronounce her name, was an avid crocheter.  She made hundreds of baby afghans for women in crisis pregnancies.  One year she purchased dozens of little baby dolls and crocheted little blankets for them for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  She patiently taught my daughter Elizabeth, then six, how to crochet.

She loved trying new patterns. She would make almost each afghan from a different pattern.  The last several years of her life her mind wouldn't always keep

December 26, 2013

Leftovers Potluck Operation Christmas Child Packing Party Idea

I love the internet!  So many ways to learn more about packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes from so many people.  Jennifer shared a while back on Simply Shoe Boxes' Facebook page that she and some friends all had leftover fillers from packing their own shoe boxes.  None of them had enough of everything needed to fill more boxes, but that didn't stop them!  They got together with their leftovers and had a potluck packing party!  I loved this idea and had to pass it on.  Their final count??  Sixty One more boxes packed!!!

How many more boxes could be packed if we all joined our
loaves and fishes at leftover potluck packing parties?
Four of my favorite Facebook shoe box packing pages to follow:
Do you have any favorite shoe box packing communities you frequent online?

December 25, 2013

Smiling Faces On Every Christmas Child ~ Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Song

One of the first images of shoebox kids in my memory is from an Operation Christmas Child video from years ago (many, many years).  They put delightful (and not so delightful) images to the song below.  We made it an annual Christmas shoe box packing tradition to watch this video as a family at shoe box packing time.  But it is sooooo moving, that my daughters, now adults, agreed it was too depressing to watch each year.
Image courtesy OCC.
Even my husband gets teary eyed watching it.  My youngest daughter tells how she remembers if she was sitting next to Daddy while he watched this video he would

December 24, 2013

Sweet Memories from Our AWANA Kids' Shoe Box Packing Party

Two sweet children gave us a couple of fun memories from our Spur of the Moment Packing Party this year for Operation Christmas Child.  We had the children fill out the OCC letter forms the week before the party.  My daughter was organizing them, readying them for the party, and as she did it she saw one from a sweet little guy she works with each week so she read it.  Under "your favorite thing to spend time doing" he had put down "look for acorns."  LOVE IT!!!  I am an outside type of gal, and with the new age of electronics, kids are so often having to be told to play or get outside, that this warmed my heart.  I have fond memories from my own and my children's childhoods of "looking for acorns."

This same little guy listened intently as my husband emphasized to remove just ONE item from each box to put into their shoe boxes.  My daughter was with him as he began down the line.  He reached the first box.  It contained ziploc bags full of school supplies.  He picked up one of the bags and began trying to get it open and when Sarah asked why he was opening it he said, "I have to choose just one item from this box to put in."  She assured him one "bag" full of school supplies counted as one item.

We had purchased the playhouse type balls to include the boxes. When organizing the fillers by age groups we pulled out all of the pink balls and put them in the 5 to

December 23, 2013

Memory & Matching Game Scrap Fabric Tutorial ~ Designed to Pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

Matching game for toddlers DIY pattern and tutorial.  Designed to pack into an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

I have hundreds of "armholes" cut from the Pillow Case Style dresses I have been making for my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  I need to be using them up some how.  I just know they can be put to good use as shoebox gifts.  The first project I decided to use them in is a matching game for the 2 to 4 year old boxes.

December 20, 2013

Jingle Bell Kid's Fleece Scarf Instructions ~ Designed for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox






I love when something inspires me to create something new for an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift.  Pam Suter, The Unofficial OCC Critter Creator (click to read her story:  Add A Little Love), has been crocheting little bears with scarves on.  At the end of some of the scarves she has put little jingle bells.  When I saw pictures of these a light bulb turned on!  Why not add jingle bells to

December 19, 2013

Upcycling Upholstery Samples: A Simple Stocking for an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

Upcycling upholstery samples thru crafting.So many great resources for upcycling. This is a stocking my daughter made for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox from upholstery fabric samples.  Many furniture stores have books of samples that they will gladly pass on when they are thru with them.Tote bags, pencil pouches, marble bags, crayon holders, the list is endless of what can be made with them and tucked away in a shoe box gift.  We have several tutorials just right for using upholstery fabric samples.  Find all of our tutorials here:  Crafting for Operation Christmas Child DIY Index.

December 18, 2013

Upcycling Christmas for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Gifts

These are some ways we have up-cycled our Christmas wrappings into Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.

Up-cycling at Christmas time for Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing.
These are some ways we have upcycled our Christmas morning wrappings into Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.
  • When wrapping presents, have a shoebox or two nearby--if you have a small piece left over that will be hard to save, wrap the top or bottom of

December 17, 2013

An Operation Christmas Child Christmas Themed Gift

Operation Christmas Child book.
Franklin Graham's Newly Released Book.
Proceeds go to help OCC.
Giving an Operation Christmas Child themed gift can be great for the right person.  You can give to the ministry while honoring the person.

My father in law married again after loosing his wife of 40+ years.  His new wife always dreamed of a big wedding--he planned one and gave her the wedding of her dream.  They love working with children, so much so that they had their whole Sunday school class (12 girls) as flower girls (my father in law bought all of their dresses for them).  They asked their guests to donate to their favorite ministry/charity instead of giving gifts.  In keeping with that wish, we have, over the past  nine years, tried to do their birthday and Christmas gifts in themes of giving or serving.

This past year we gave his wife a handmade tote bag (proceeds went to sponsor a Ugandan woman) filled with crafting supplies she could use with her "kids."  We also included some "fuel" for her--for snacks and Wendy's meals.  We have done several things like this, including gas cards for Dad as he works

December 16, 2013

Upcycled Cards & Cardboard Tubes = Paper Holders for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Finished tubes.
I watched a long interview online of an OCC Representative talking about all aspects of  Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts.  I am sorry but I have no idea where I saw this or who it was, so I can't share it.  She began at one point showing what she had in her box and one thing stuck with me--an upcycled toilet paper roll tube.

She took the tube and wrapped it in pretty paper.  She then rolled the school paper she was including in the box and tucked it inside the tube.  It kept the paper from creasing and also looked pretty.  I knew I had to try this and also share it with you all.  As always, I added a twist to the original idea:  make tubes out of cards!

Greeting cards are already decorated and with a little free tape I had on hand it was a breeze to whip some up.  I am thinking some stick glue might work nicely, too, but I don't have much experience with it.  I just rolled my cards up and taped

December 13, 2013

Memories of Shoe Box Distributions ~ Behind The Shoe Boxes: Stories of Sharing

I would like to introduce you to Rilla who had the privilege of going on an Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution.  She also loves crafting for shoe boxes, and of course, packing them.  If you have been around the OCC Facebook community much, you will have seen Rilla sharing--that's how I "met" her. UPDATED 2017:  The images have all disappeared from this post.

When I was asked to share my shoebox story, a few things came to mind. For one thing I wanted to share some of my experiences during shoebox distributions that I was blessed to be a part of. In 2002 and 2003 I was blessed to be able to go to the country of Belarus and help hand out OCC shoeboxes as a part of Josh McDowell's ministry Operation Bearlift. I have so many good memories of those 2 trips.

Several children stand out, but 2 little girls especially come to mind. One was a 15 year old who only had a doll and some candy in her box. But I still remember how excited she was and how she could hardly wait for us to get the cardboard piece off the doll so she could hold it. And at the other end of the age spectrum, a 3 year old girl. I didn't see what else came in her box, but it didn't matter cause she had eyes only for the doll in her box. 2 young girls who had probably never had a doll of their own before. I often wonder about them. One a young teenager now. Does she still play with her doll sometimes? And the other, a young lady now, perhaps with children of her own. If she has a

December 12, 2013

Christmas Fun!

My daughter was working on preparing cards for the kids at church to send to the home-bounds and she mentioned how cute this Penguin was shouting "Christmas Fun!"  I immediately thought, "he must have packed some shoe boxes!"  Packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is certainly Christmas Fun!

December 11, 2013

A Favorite Tool Makes Quick Work of Cutting Fleece

When pulling together our Spur of The Moment Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party for 125 boxes this year I shared how I had made some quick crafts to stretch the budget.  Included were dozens of fleece scarves (some from clearanced blankets) and fleece mini blankets.  These electric scissors made quick work out of it.
Electric shears for cutting fleece.

I have a lot of joint and muscle pain, so I am always looking for ways to be able to do things I love to do more easily.  Months ago while making dozens of pillowcase style dresses I remembered years ago seeing electric scissors so I started Googling!  I found these online at Joanne Fabrics and had a 50% off one item and free shipping. I don't remember the final cost, but they are so worth it.  They are easy to hold and make super quick work out of cutting many items at once.

Have you found a favorite tool to make your Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing go quicker or smoother?

If you are looking for some new craft ideas for your shoeboxes check out our Crafting For Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Tutorial Index.  Lots of free patterns and illustrated instructions for easy to make fillers for shoeboxes.

December 10, 2013

Earning Rebates for Online Shopping ~ Having More for Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

I do a lot of online shopping because of health problems, and I am always looking for ways to save while doing it, especially for packing more Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  I recently joined Ebates and have been enjoying checks back for my online shopping.  It is quick and simple -- two of my favorite things.

Before I order anything online I hop over to Ebates to see if they offer a cash back reward for the store I want to order from.  If they do all I have to do is click on the link that takes me to the store and I will earn whatever percent they offer--usually from 2% to 10%.  They often run double cash back deals.

For our Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party we needed a large number of balls CHEAP.  We found Walmart offered the playhouse balls at a price that fit our budget perfectly.  Ebates offered 5% back from Walmart purchases, so we went thru the link.  Next time they send me a check, there will be a rebate from the Walmart purchase.

If you are interested you can check out this post on our other blog:  Ebates ~ Cash Back for Online Shopping.

You can also check out all the ways We Find Extra Money for Packing More Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

December 9, 2013

Button Up Crochet Scarf & Hat Pattern ~ Designed for an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

Crochet toddler hat and scarf:  free pattern.  Designed for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

My daughter designed and crocheted this toddler hat and scarf set for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. The same design can be made larger by increasing the crochet hook size and using 3-ply worsted weight yarn. She chose the lightweight yarn and a semi-open design to take up less room in the shoebox while still giving

December 6, 2013

Adding a Little Love with a Personal Touch ~ Behind The Shoe Boxes: Stories of Sharing

I would like to introduce you to a crafter extraordinaire:  Pam Suter.  She has added a personal touch to hundreds of Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, ones she has personally packed and those packed at the massive packing parties put on by OCC Northwestern PA each year (think tens of thousands of boxes packed in one day).  Her hands are kept very busy.

A Prayer, A Child, A Flyer, and A Packing Party
  by Pam Suter

"Lord, please make me your hands and feet". That had been my prayer for several years, and is still my prayer now. I had been searching for ways to be "Jesus' hands and feet" for quite some time, and had served in some ministries ever since

December 4, 2013

Packing Tip ~ Include a Letter & Your Mailing or Email Address in OCC Shoe Box Gifts

When sending an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift be sure to include a personal letter with your return address or email address inside.  Many times a child receiving a shoe box will write those who sent it.


Correspondence from an Operation Christmas Child shoebox recipient. We have gotten several over the years.  Some were children in hospitals and orphanages and like this one I received from Latvia, the young girl and her mother lived with her grandparents. We actually corresponded for a short while.  I can remember that she loved stickers and was learning English in school so corresponding was good practice for her.  Sarah received an email from an older sibling of a recipient of one of her boxes this year.  It included a picture of the girl with her box--that was fun because Sarah could tell just which box this girl received.

Also include a photo of yourself or family.  Those who hand out the shoe boxes say this is often the child's favorite item in the shoe box.  I remember seeing in a video, a young Spanish speaking boy waving the photo from his box and shouting "amigo, amigo."

If you could like some tips on writing a letter check out this post:  Tips on Writing a Letter for an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.

December 3, 2013

Card Game Favors at Family Dollar ~ Added to My Operation Christmas Child Stockpile

My daughters just came home from shopping for a Christmas tree...long story short, I am allergic to our live tree.  It now resides on the deck where we can see it thru the sliding door.  Anyways, they didn't find a tree, but they found these adorable playing cards in a party favor display with other items at Family Dollar on sale for 75 cents each--there are two in each pack.  They are perfect for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
I remember a story of a child whose family began playing UNO each
night after supper because they received it in his shoe box.  It made
a big difference in the family members' lives.
Sarah shares our additions to our stockpile each Saturday.  You can see them all here:  Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ Adding to Our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile.

December 2, 2013

After Thanksgiving Shopping ~ Added Little to My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile

My husband did a little after Thanksgiving Operation Christmas Child shoebox shopping for me Saturday morning. His first stop was Office Max for a some 1 cent batteries after MaxPerks rewards.  This enables us to get a lot of shoebox items.  The limit was two, but he needed some for personal use, so only one goes into my stockpile.  They are on the same special this week again, so he will be stopping in for two more for shoeboxes.
We read of children in war torn countries who were afraid of
the dark and how a flashlight brought them comfort.
Our shoe boxes always include a flashlight with extra batteries.


Dollar General had their last chance clearance items 50% off.  The prices were still pretty high but I had seen these little tablets so asked him to pick up four for me--they would be 25 cents each.  After he brought them home I noticed they

Grandma Sally's Bitty Afghan ~ Free Crochet Instructions

Bitty afghan free crochet pattern designed for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

I love combining my crafting inspiration for my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes with my memories of the past.  This crocheted lovey is a perfect example.  Years after learning to crochet from her teacher on her lunch hour in a one room school house, my grandmother made her 21 grandchildren and dozens of great grandchildren many crocheted gifts in her lifetime. One of her favorites was a granny square slipper which she made in various colors--changing the color every

November 30, 2013

Youth with a Passion ~ Behind the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes: Stories of Sharing

Today's Behind the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox story shows us that we are never too young to dedicate ourselves to a project we are passionate about.  Cora has found a creative way to fund her passion (I've included several pictures of her products from her blog for you to see).

Hello! My name is Cora, I am 14 years old, and I hand-make bookmarks and jewelry to raise money for Samaritan's Purse / Operation Christmas Child. I blog

November 29, 2013

Upcycled Ladies' Skirts to Little Girls' Dresses for Operation Christmas Child Sheoboxes

Finished Dresses
My daughter was gathering items to donate to Goodwill and knew that I was interested in upcycling items into new gifts for my Operation Christmas Child Shoebox gifts.  She had these two cotton skirts that were perfect for turning into pillowcase style dresses for a 2 to 4 years old girl's shoebox!

November 28, 2013

Thankful to Give to Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection

Thankful to see this sweet little one in Uganda in a dress I made.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, my mind and heart agree that I am thankful to be on the giving end of the Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

May I work harder than ever this year to share with those in need, encourage and inspire others who also give, and next Thanksgiving may I be able to look back and be thankful for what I have been privileged to accomplish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2013

Organizing for Packing Shoe Boxes All Year Long

With national collection week behind us, those of us packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, are ready to begin thinking about the boxes we will give in 2014.  By shopping and crafting all year long we can pack our boxes for less and either pack more or pack them fuller.  I wanted to share a simple way to organize your shopping/packing to be able to keep up with your fillers for those of you packing a few to several boxes.  If you are planning on packing several dozen or hundreds check out this spread sheet I made a few years ago: Shoebox Supplies Check Off List--You can print them off, tuck them in a notebook and check them off as you shop all year and you will know when you have enough of each item.

Collecting empty shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child packing.

Find your empty shoeboxes--ask shoe stores & stores like Kmart with

November 25, 2013

CVS Freebies Add to My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile for 2014

What is better than getting free stuff for your Operation Christmas Child shoebox stockpile?  Having someone else shop for you and getting it free.  My daughter Sarah is a CVS expert.  I started a blog, Simply CVS, a few years back and last summer I turned it over to her...she is the real CVS expert of the family.  Today's shopping trip netted her some great household items, but also some great items for our shoe box stockpile:  all for free.


1 - Orbit Gum @ $1.00 get $1.00 extra bucks back
1 -- React 5 Gum @ $1.00 get $1.00 extra bucks back
**3 -- Gum Toothbrushes double pack @ $2.00 each get $2.00 extra bucks back each (ad says limit one, but after checking out one the receipt said she could get

No-Sew Fleece Bunny Tutorial ~ Perfectly Sized for an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

No-Sew Fleece Bunnies pattern & tutorial.  Just the right size for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

When my daughters were little I saw little bunnies made out of washcloths that were to be used to tuck an ice cube into.  They were called boo-boo bunnies.  I have made many over the years for many children.  I remember making a mini one once for a doll that I was dressing for a Christmas doll collection.  It slipped over the dolls hand--I thought it looked adorable with her all dressed for bed with a

November 24, 2013

Let the Packing Begin! A Photo Essay ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...here are 23,000 words for you to enjoy.

The 2013 Spur of the Moment Operation Christmas Child Packing Party in Pictures.



My youngest daughter set up a camera to automatically snap pictures every 2 to 3 minutes and she and my older daughter also took more pictures.  It has taken me quite some time to go thru them all and get them ready to share.  One reason for the extended length of time was I did not want to share any identifiable images of the children without their parent's permission--so I needed to work thru to find ones of their backs only or blur their sweet faces.  Enjoy your visit to our first

November 23, 2013

Happiness is Handmade ~ Behind the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

This first in our new series of Behind the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox:  Stories of Sharing is not only introducing an individual but a group she has developed on Facebook and invites us all to join. Meet Jo (and some of her crafting friends & their work).

My name is Jo, I live in the UK and I'm the administrator for a Facebook page called Crafting for Shoeboxes.

This will be my tenth year of making shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  In the last few years, I've been making some items for my boxes and also putting together kits to encourage the child to craft.  When I told my friend Carol, a fellow shoeboxer and crafter, that I'd been thinking about setting up a page for people like us, she was very enthusiastic and so Crafting for Shoeboxes was born.

Crafting for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
Crafted by Steve
When we started last summer, I thought that if we got 30 people 'liking' us, that would be great.  We have just passed the 800 mark [Update 2017: they have

November 21, 2013

A Favorite Story from Our 2013 Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

I will be bringing a complete photo essay to you in the next couple of days of our Spur of the Moment Operation Christmas Child packing party, but I just wanted to stop by and share my favorite story my daughters and husband shared about the party.  We are always reading how the perfect box gets delivered to the perfect child on OCC distributions.  Now we have one of own about the perfect filler being packed by the perfect child.

Kids packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.
Packing a special friend.
By the way it was "WACKY" night so she was wearing a wacky mask.
If you have been following our series of this packing party's preparation you'll remember we sent out a request on Facebook for stuffed animals. My daughter posted "...We are especially in need of small stuffed animals (think the size of Beanie Babies). If there is one you or your child is willing to part with (provided it is in like-new condition) it would be a great help to our shoebox packing party!"  That Wednesday a little girl who had not been able to be in AWANA club this school year yet came running up to her with a huge smile.  My daughter began exclaiming how great it was to see her when the little girl stopped in tracks and said,

Sweet Surprise: Seventeen Donated Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

If you have been reading along our Spur of the Moment Operation Christmas Child  packing party posts you will remember I mentioned we came up short on EMPTY boxes to fill!  We sent out pleas far and wide to get boxes.  My friend owns a small, discount craft/fabric store and I asked her if she would mind putting a plea out on her store's Facebook page.  She said sure and shared on her personal page, too.

A trunk full of filled shoe boxes!
Because of those pleas enough shoe boxes came into the store to fill our need.  I had given her OCC brochures, too, and she mentioned in the posts that if anyone wanted to pack their own box they could get all the information in the store.

My daughter received a text from her today that a church's women's group packed 17 boxes and dropped them off at the store!  They also handed her a check made out to Samaritan's Purse to cover the shipping. And these boxes were PACKED FULL!! They are heavy!  What a fun surprise came out of our need for empty shoeboxes!

If you would like to use the Wanted! Poster we made for collecting empty shoeboxes you can find it here:  Wanted!  Empty Shoe Boxes for Packing Operation Christmas Child Sheoboxes.

November 20, 2013

Final Accounting ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

This is the "almost" final accounting of our spur of the moment packing party for Operation Christmas Child.  We had ordered some 88 cent sewing kits from a local craft store last week and they received the wrong item.  The supplier was to ship a replacement order to arrive yesterday...it didn't.  The party is tonight, so if it doesn't show up this morning my daughter will be buying them at Dollar General for $1 each.

Another thing keeping us from having a complete final accounting is the craft store in the past has given my daughter a 10% discount when buying things for the church, but she hasn't asked if that includes the supplies we picked up for crafting items and the sewing kits.  The store is keeping a running tally of what she is buying and will bill her once.  So without further ado:


Spending ($500 Budget given)


Shoe Boxes
  • Original Request:  at least 100
    • More if possible
  • 125 boxes ready to be filled
    • 22 -- 10 to 14 years old boys
    • 22 -- 10 to 14 years old girls
    • 18 -- 5 to 9  years old boys
    • 18 -- 5 to 9 years old girls
    • 10 -- 2 to 4  years old girls
    • 35 -- 2 to 4 years old boys


As I have reported she:

  • Went from store to store listing prices.
  • Figured what each box should cost.
  • Figured from that she could fill just 75.
  • Shopped at various stores to get the lowest price for each item.

If she had more time she could shop a little more and fill a dozen or so more with the cash balance.  But for the first time hosting a packing party and doing it in less than two weeks I think she did a fantastic job.  We had fun helping her!  Tonight...The Packing Begins!

Follow along with our family as I share our journey of The Spur of The Moment Operation Christmas Child Packing Party of 2013.

November 19, 2013

Step 7: Setting Up for Packing ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

Our spur of the moment packing party for Operation Christmas Child is scheduled for this Wednesday night's AWANA club at our church.  We planned to set up tonight, Tuesday, but there was another group using the gym and we didn't want to disturb them so we went last night and set up.
Setting up an Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party in a church sanctuary - gym.
The light was so low that these images will be very dark and grainy.
Our church has grown and we use our gym for Sunday services.  The chairs can be taken down so that the gym can be used.  Usually for AWANA only half of the chairs are removed so the game circle is available leaving half of them still set up.  My daughter decided using the chairs and boxes

November 18, 2013

Behind the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxe ~ Stories of Sharing

I love a good story!  And biographies top the list!  So it is natural to gravitate toward the stories of those who work behind the scenes to get shoe box gifts to children in need around the world.  From the average packer to the crafter of fillers, from the deal shoppers to the year round volunteers, from the fundraisers to the Operation Christmas Child employees, they all have a story to tell.

It is my desire to find out their stories and to bring them to Simply Shoeboxes so you, too, can take a look Behind the Shoe Box and read these Stories of Sharing.  And I hope, like me, they inspire you to keep on doing what you love to do behind the shoe box scenes.

Each week I plan to introduce you to a shoe box packer.  You can click on this banner in the sidebar anytime to see them all.

If you have a story to tell or know of someone who would be perfect for this series, check out this page with all the information you need to know to guest post:  Tell Your Shoe Box Sharing Story.  I would love to hear your story.

Wouldn't It Be Lovely? What a Needy Child Might Sing If He/She Knew OCC Shoebox Gifts Existed

Do you recall the song "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" from My Fair Lady?  It came to mind the other day and I began singing "All I Want is Shoebox Please" in place of  "All I want is a room somewhere."  I cannot give these children a room from the cold night air, but I can give them an Operation Christmas Child shoebox with a few necessities and niceties.   I just had to re-write the lyrics into what a needy child may wish for.


All I want is a shoe box please,
Packed with love, care and things I need.

Step 6: Sorting Fillers By Age Groups ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

I thrive on organizing things so I loved being able to help my daughter sort her goodies for the 125 boxes to be packed by the AWANA kids at church Wednesday night for Operation Christmas Child.  What I don't thrive on is last minute anything.  But when you have less than two weeks to plan, buy for and prepare a packing party for kids, there is much last minute preparation.  Thankfully I was in possession of dozens of banker boxes to use to sort the fillers.  They hold a lot and are easy to handle.


Over the past couple of years Office Max has offered the banker boxes free after MaxPerks and I purchased them whenever the deal came up.  They came in handy when we moved last year.  They were stored in the attic just waiting for me to use them for one of my giving projects.  I must admit, I did

November 17, 2013

$12 of Shoe Box Fillers for $1 Out of Pocket ~ Beginning a Stockpile for 2014 OCC Shoebox Season

We are in the middle of a spur of the moment Operation Christmas Child packing party, as most of you know, but that didn't stop my daughter from bringing home some goodies for next year's boxes.

She made one last run for items we were still lacking on Saturday.  Right before she left I received an email from Family Dollar with a $5 off $25 purchase coupon.  She needed some socks and zipper bags that she could get there so I printed off

Thankful for a Home Printer ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

I am so thankful to have a computer and home printer.  I use them both daily for a variety of items, and they have certainly come in handy for our spur of the moment Operation Christmas Child packing party.

Letters

We printed off the letter form from Operation Christmas Child and had the kids at church fill them out to include in the boxes (actually, I found out my daughters had this printed on the copier at church--but I wanted to include it in this post as a printing resource).

Including a letter from children in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

Shoe Box Labels

Clip With Purpose shared these great sheets of shoe box labels--all marked with the

November 16, 2013

Step 5: Bagging School Supplies ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

Packing school supplies for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party.

Our spur of the moment Operation Christmas Child packing party is coming together.  Five days from now it will be history.  We bagged all of the school supplies for each box in a gallon zipper bag just as we bagged the hygiene items.  My daughter choose to do it this way for two reasons:
  1. To better ensure each box will be getting each item.
  2. Make it easier on the kids packing the boxes.
    1. Limiting the number of items they are responsible to put in each box will not only make it easier on them, but make it move more quickly.  They

November 15, 2013

Donations Received from Near and Far ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

From My Daughter's Facebook Plea
Stuffed Animals for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party.
Request for small stuffed animals & Beanie Babies.
Results:  19 loveys for boxes!
I wanted to take a moment to share donations we have received this week for our Spur of the Moment Packing Paryt for Operation Christmas Child.  With the time limit and personal time restraints we were unable to run around to stores/hotels/restaurants/etc. and request donation items, but we still received

November 14, 2013

Step 4: Crafting Items to Stretch the Budget ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

As many of you know, crafting your own items to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child can really stretch the budget while giving a very personal touch to the gift.  I know many of you craft all year for your own boxes and for packing parties you are involved in. While throwing together a spur of the moment packing party on a budget takes a lot of time, we still found some time to do some easy, quick to make handcrafted items to save on the budget and personalize the boxes.


I began with some scarves cut from fleece blankets I had purchased at after Christmas clearance sales.  I had enough for 36 scarves. While counting up the "warm" clothing we then had, we were still short by nine so we purchased some plain fleece from the local discount craft store and with just a yard and a fourth

November 13, 2013

Step 3: Bagging Hygiene Supplies ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

Packing hygiene supplies for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party.
Hygiene items ready to be packed in zipper bags.
Each box we personally pack for Operation Christmas Child includes many hygiene items. We wanted to include as many as our given budget could afford in our supplies for the packing party.  We always bag our soap in sandwich zipper bags to contain the fragrance...even tho we use Ivory which is mild.

To make it easier on the kids packing the boxes we went ahead and used quart sized bags and included all the hygiene items with the soap.  This will also ensure

November 12, 2013

Step 2: Candy Preparation ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

Candy double bagged to protect items in boxes in case of melting.
It also helps keep it from absorbing any soap odor/taste
 (soap is also bagged).
We have always included hard candy in our shoe boxes and our Children's Pastor mentioned putting it in so that was included in the list for the Operation Christmas Child packing party my daughter is doing for her AWANA kids.  We had some left overs from our own shoe boxes and whenever my daughters need candy for the AWANA kids they buy hard candy suitable for OCC boxes...if there is any leftover,

November 11, 2013

Step One: Take Inventory of Stock on Hand ~ Organizing a Spur of the Moment OCC Packing Party

The sorting begins.
Because I collect Operation Christmas Child shoe box supplies all year long I often have an odd assortment of supplies left over that cannot make up complete boxes.  But I don't mind because I plan it that way...I then donate the leftovers to packing parties or send them to the OCC processing center to be used as fillers.  So when my daughter announced she was to quickly pull together a packing party of 100 boxes we needed to take inventory of what we had before she went shopping.

Also, my daughters are in charge of any AWANA banquets or programs throughout the year.  Whenever they need decorations for the tables they try to use things

November 10, 2013

It Takes a Family to Plan a Spur of the Moment Packing Party for OCC

They say "it takes a village to raise a child."  We now say, "it takes a family to pull together a last minute packing party of 100+ shoe box gifts for Operation Christmas Child."  As I explained in my earlier post, "Spur of the Moment Packing Party for 100 OCC Boxes ~ "On a Wing and a Prayer"," my daughter was asked to put together and shop for a shoe box packing party for our AWANA kids at church in two weeks time.  As this is not her only responsibility we have joined along side of her to help her pull it off on a limited time and financial budget.

Some of the things we have been able to help her with:

November 9, 2013

Spur of the Moment Packing Party for 100 OCC Boxes ~ "On a Wing and a Prayer"

My daughter found out Wednesday night at AWANA that she was placed in charge of the Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party planned for Wednesday the 20th.  That gives her 12 days for planning, hunting and gathering supplies and a day to set up the day before.  We feel like the plane with a motor out coming in "on a wing and a prayer."

Her first shopping run....she just had to run back to Sandy's
last night and grab 99 cent stuffed animals and a few other goodies.
(I think that is the biggest bag I have ever seen from a store.)

Now in our family, we shop all year for shoe boxes hitting sales and clearances.  We also tend to fill our boxes with MANY items, we always seem to find one more thing to go in.  Just going out shopping for 100 shoe boxes on a limited budget on the spur of the moment is new to us.  So the first thing we did was go to the

November 8, 2013

Dresses & Socks ~ Having Fun Packing Fillers for OCC Shoebox Gifts

Dress Made in Honor of the NC Rep for
Dress A Girl Around the World
I think I am addicted to sewing these pillowcase style dresses!  They are so fun, quick and simple to make, and so adorable.  I have always wanted to include more clothing in my Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and these are perfect--they fold nicely into zipper bags--2 to 4 year olds I put in sandwich size and the larger sizes I put in quart size.  My husband found some toddler socks on clearance at Dollar General a while back when they had 50% off clearance items and picked up two packages for me.  Each pack has seven pairs of socks--this means I can include socks with 14 of my dresses.  I am having fun matching them up!

Check out this precious smile on a girl wearing a dress I made.  She received it this summer in Uganda thru Dress A Girl Around The World.  Perhaps it is these smiles that keep me addicted to sewing these dresses to tuck into my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

You can see many of the dresses I've made in this series of posts:  Handmade by Cheryl.

November 6, 2013

Packaging Fillers for OCC Shoebox Distribution Center ~ Pillowcase Dresses

Click on image for a larger, clearer view, not sure why it is blurry.
I am working on packing pillowcase dresses as fillers for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution center.  I have decided to tuck them into quart size ziploc bags (my husband picked up at Dollar General when they were 50% off the clearanced sticker price) and squeeze all the air I can out of them to make them as small as possible.

I have some mailing labels I got free after MaxPerks rewards from Office Max and found these delightful Christmas label templates in my Publisher program.  I'll stick one on each bag and pack them in boxes plainly marked with the same information on the outside hopefully making it easy for them to be used by the volunteers inspecting the shoeboxes at the Operation Chirstmas Child processing center.

I hope this tip is an idea someone else can use.  If you are looking for more tips for packing shoeboxes check out our series of Tips for Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

And if you'd like to see more about the OCC processing center or the need for fillers check out this post:  A Day at the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Processing Center.

November 5, 2013

DIY Crafts for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes ~ How To's and Tutorials Index from Simply Shoeboxes

Crafting for Operation Christmas Child patterns and tutorials.




One of my favorite items to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox is something I have made.  And because I enjoy designing my own patterns, I have written tutorials to share.  They include sewn, no-sew, crochet and upcycled.  Each crafting for OCC shoeboxes tutorial has step by step, illustrated instructions.

I also enjoy sending extra crafted items to the Operation Christmas Child processing centers as fillers.  If you are interested in donating handcrafted items directly to OCC click the banner on the right.

I've included some of my finished projects for shoeboxes at the bottom.

You can also find more inspiration and DIY tutorials thru the links on our Craft Linkies Page.  Many crafters share free instructions and

             
Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.
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