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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
passed the 4300 mark]!  We have members all across the world including the UK, Portugal, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Crafted by Heather
Although it is actually a Page rather than a Group, I prefer to think of our fans as members of an interactive community – we are a 'virtual craft group'!  Our members like to share photos of the items they have made, photos of their finished boxes, patterns and tutorials that they've found on the internet, hints and tips and also discuss ideas for projects.

I really enjoy seeing the photos of the things that our members make and I know that they inspire other members too.  You can see the time, care and love that has gone into making them.  Our members  are always keen to give supportive feedback on other people's projects and to answer questions about their own work.

I've found that crafters are 'giving' people – they like to share their knowledge.  Several members have done photo tutorials for us, or provided instructions and patterns for items that they have designed themselves.

Crafted by Carol

There are many reasons why our members make things for their shoeboxes.  It's a 'win-win' – we get enjoyment and satisfaction from making something and the child receives a unique present made with love, especially for them.  One member once commented that she felt like she was sending a piece of herself inside her shoeboxes by handmaking items for them.  Some people have spare time and want to use their skills to make a positive difference to a child's life.  Some people make things because they find it is more cost effective than buying them, or they want items that are simply not available in the shops.  Some people just want to make their shoeboxes extra special.

Crafted by Katherine
The page is not affiliated to any one particular shoebox appeal, although I am aware that the vast majority of members support Operation Christmas Child.  I wanted to make the page all-inclusive, so it is of interest to anyone who makes up shoeboxes, regardless of which appeal they give to, where they live, whether they have religious beliefs and whether they are a beginner or an expert crafter.
Crafted by Jo

We've seen some great photos of mammoth crafting efforts, where people have made hundreds of items.  But we also want to encourage people to make just one item, or try something new.  We believe that anybody can make things for their shoeboxes – we even have a list of ideas for what you could make if you can't sew, knit or crochet.

So, whether you make a few things for your own shoeboxes, make extras to share with friends or family, or make hundreds of items for packing parties, please join us.  Come and share your thoughts and ideas about this fun and worthwhile pastime with other, like-minded people.  Browse our photo albums, photo tutorials, and our useful Notes section, which has ideas of what to make for each type of box and what to put in your shoebox for the child to make or craft with.  If you are new to crafting and have a question, please feel free to ask.  In fact, just come and say "hi" if you like!

Crafted by Olive
If you are not on Facebook, you can still join us on our sister page on Pinterest:  Crafting for Shoeboxes.  You don't even need your own Pinterest account to access it – simply browse the boards, click on anything you like the look of and bookmark the original web page.

Remember – Happiness is handmade

Crafted by Pam Suter.
I'd like to invite you to stop by Jo's Facebook page, like it and say hello! She loves to welcome crafters and packers to her page, Crafting for Shoeboxes.

Also, you can find all of my shoe box craft tutorials in this post:  Crafting for Operation Christmas Child Tutorial Posts Index.

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 Shoebox Sharing Story.  I would love to hear your story.  You can also see all of the stories in this series here:  Behind the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stories.

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