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

             
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