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Good Week for Hygiene Items: Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 1/30/2016

Each Saturday I share blog post called " Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile Saturday" of what I've added to my stockpile lately via purchases, crafting, donations, etc.  This was another rather slow week, but good on the hygiene filler item front.

Hygiene items for Operation Christmas Child shoebox stockpile.
From my and a family member's CVS shopping trip (details here on my other blog), once we use the CVS ECBs we got on the above, it'll all have been free!  I plan to take the soap out of the outer plastic wrapper to help it dry out and will double bag it when packing to help contain the smell.

A dentist appointment netted us these for free, we checked the toothpaste date, and it was late enough to use next year. UPDATE 2017:  toothpaste is no longer allowed.

I got these from Oriental Trading during their free shipping promotion.  They're small, but on clearance 24 for $1.08, so a great little extra!  They fit perfectly in the Pencil Pouches my mom sews.

My sister works in the church office, and brought home some rubber-bands that mail had come in, etc-perfect for shoeboxes! 

My mom & sister crocheted 2 Aunt Ida Hats.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: -$52.68  (Got rewards back from buying batteries at Office Depot in December)

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $4.84

Added to stockpile:
  • 2 3-packs of Ivory Soap
  • 3 2-packs of toothbrushes
  • 1 mini toothpaste
  • 1 single toothbrush
  • 72 mini notebooks
  • 5 rubberbands
  • 2 hats
If you are looking for some craft ideas for your shoeboxes check out our Crafting For Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Tutorial Index.

Slow Week for My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 1/23/2016

Here's what I've added to my Operation Christmas Child shoebox stockpile this week via purchases, crafting, donations, etc.  Don't have too much to share this week as it's been a rough week caring for my grandmother who lives with us, so there hasn't been a lot of time to spend on shoeboxes.

I sat aside a few of this pack of cards I got for Christmas to put in a hot air balloon themed box I'm working on and found these dice I'd bought for something but didn't need.  I'll probably print off Yahtzee scores sheets to include with them, and of course they can play any dice game they know with them, or make one up.  The neat thing about both these items is that I have stories to tell about the theme and game and my extended family, so it'll make the notes I include in those boxes more personal and give a better connection to the recipient. 

My mom & sister crocheted 3 Aunt Ida Hats from Joy With Purpose

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $0

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 3 hats
  • 2 cards
  • 10 dice
You can see all of our stockpile additions posts here:  Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ Adding to Our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile.

"Nesting" When Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

I've posted a couple times (here & here) about how to get more to fit in your Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes by removing packaging.  Today I'd like to share another way we fit more in.  I've decided to term it "nesting" for lack of a better term.  It is the idea of putting one shoebox item inside another one.  I first really got into doing this when I had a couple small puzzles to send...didn't really want to take it out of the box as I had with toys, but it seemed to take up too much

CVS Clearance & Shopping at Home for My OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 1/16/2016

I decided maybe I should start a weekly blog post called "Shoebox Stockpile Saturday" of what I've added to my stockpile lately via purchases, crafting, donations, etc.

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox shopping.

I stopped by CVS on Sunday after church and found all non-food Christmas 90% off.  So I got some fun stuff-the most I paid was $0.99 for the three animals in the center left, they're to stack, but make great little stuffed animals.  The Pez was only 50% off, but we're trying to make a snowman themed box.  The balls were dog I balls they're like rubber inside and bounce pretty good. If an item for dogs was something that would be touched more by a human, say a stuffed animal, I probably wouldn't use it, but as the human would handle the ball the same to throw it to a dog, or themselves, I wasn't too worried about safety issues (chemicals or something), and  was able to remove the "naughty" from the balls that said that (details in this Facebook post)

 Found these emery boards we got free at CVS a few years ago, kept being going to use them for some project or another, decided as we hadn't yet it was time to send in shoeboxes!

When packing away the last of the Christmas wrapping, decorations, gifts, I set aside these items to send in shoebox.  If you've been reading these posts you know I love tins to send-haha!  And I thought the mini drawstring bags would be perfect for jewelry kits with the beads I found last week.

Got another coloring book 50% off at CVS.

My mom & sister crocheted 6 Aunt Ida Hats.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: -$27.96 (the Office Depot rewards came back for batteries I bought a couple weeks ago and the family budget gave cash to the shoebox budget for them as we needed ink)

Spent from gift cards I earned or won online: $9.77

Added to stockpile:
  • 1 WOW item bag
  • 1 purse
  • 3 sets of pretty soap
  • 36 balls
  • 3 stuffed animals
  • 1 snowman hat
  • 1 snowman Pez
  • 22 packs of emery boards
  • 2 pails
  • 1 basket
  • 3 tins
  • 5 small bags
  • 1 ornament
  • 1 mini box
  • 6 crocheted hats
You may be interested in checking out our series of Tips for Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

Organizing My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stash

So, you've decided to shop for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes year round, and pack a few-great!! ...but what do you do with it all year? Well, this is what we're trying this year.

We are hoping to pack around 50 shoeboxes this year (it's not about the numbers, but the children, which is why I don't often share our number, but for this post I thought it would be helpful).  And we tend to pack similar things in all our boxes-they're not identical, but have basically the same-same hygiene supplies and categories of school supplies, but different colors, games, toys, coloring books, etc.  So, to start organizing this year (this is kind of my first year organizing the stash) the first thing I did was make the lists from what my family has told me they wanted to pack.  I also took an inventory of what we had left over from packing last year and hadn't sent as fillers or have gotten since we packed.  Then I made a budget spreadsheet and assigned a price to each item based on how much I thought we'd spend on it.  Then I put in how many we needed based on the list, and how many we had in stock to be sure our budget would cover it.  It looked good. So we decided to go ahead with the goal of 50.  And shared the list with everyone, so we know what we're shopping for.

We happen to have a spare room in our house that isn't used often, so we decided we could lay out the bankers boxes and tubs of supplies in there, and when

Removing Packaging when Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

So...have you ever wondered how to get more items in your Operation Christmas Child shoebox?   I think many of us have more things we'd like to send then we can fit.  Well, one good first step is to remove extra packaging.  I mentioned this in a post last year, and gave one example.  But thought I'd share some more info, ideas, etc.

This came to mind recently when I came across this "Lego" type kit on clearance-the box was WAY to big to fit in any shoebox I'd use to send, but I shook it and it felt small inside so I got it-turns out I was right, I slide the instructions and pieces into a small zippered bag and it took up ver little room in the Go Box, you can see it overwhelmed it before.  I may cut the image off the box and tape it in the lid or line the bottom so they can see what it's supposed to be, but as it has instructions I'm not too worried.  Alternatives to a zippered plastic bag would be to buy small purse, pencil case, etc. or you could sew a small drawstring bag or crochet a small drawstring bag as well.

Thanks to Debora Clark photo from processing center

That's obviously one big item, but here's an example of how much room a few smaller items left in packaging can take up.  This is a box that came through the Dallas Processing Center.  Looks like a cute box-toys, hygiene & candy items that we can see, plus lined with tissue paper-supper cute & thoughtful idea.  It even looks pretty full...but if you took those candy canes out of their box and double bagged them, took the doll off the blister pack back, you could fit in even more (& sending more is always one of my goals!! :) ) This also is a good illustration as it shows one thing I might not take out of packaging-toothbrush.  There's no hard and fast rule on this, but personally I wouldn't take it out of packaging unless I had a cap or case to put it in, or maybe if it was a multipack I might put it in a ZipLock type bag, but I don't think I'd send it lose.

Removing packaging is something that I hesitated about doing for some time as I was concerned about it looking new, but I've learned as long as it looks new it's not necessary, and I can fit so much more in, plus they often don't have a good way to throw away trash in other countries.

A few questions I consider when removing packaging:

  1. Does it need the packaging (or replacement packaging like a zipper sealed bag, or sewn bag) to keep it in good condition?  Like the toothbrush I mentioned above, or some doll's hair may get rumbled if not tied back
  2. Does it need the packaging (or replacement packaging) to keep the other shoebox items safe?  For instance scissors that might open and cut something or toothpaste that might squeeze out.  Or soap, always needs bagged.
  3. Does it need the packaging (or replacement packaging) to keep it together, small pieces from being lost (Lego kits, etc.)
  4. Does it need the packaging to identify it? Maybe soap or something like that.
  5. Does it need the packaging, or at least part of it to explain it.  For instance some games, puzzles, etc.  Most Lego type kits should come with instructions, but some times the packaging can show something else to build with the same pieces.  If it needs only part of the packaging, you can cut it off and send just the needed part, or like I've done with puzzles before, keep the box but tuck other items in.

Unless the answer to one of those questions is yes, and there's not a better replacement packaging, I'd like to encourage you to consider removing it.  I'd like to close with this video I found to be a good illustration of this principle.

You may want to check out our posts in the series:  Making More Fit in Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.  And if are wondering what type of shoebox you can use?  Check out our post:  What Type of Box to Use for Operation Christmas Child.

Shopping & Finds About the House ~ OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 1/9/2016

I am trying to learn to keep my eyes open for things around the house that would be perfect for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  We have a lot of new or like new items that we an pass on thru a shoebox gift.

CVS clearance shopping for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
 This was my CVS clearance-the box was 75% off Christmas.  The rest was 50% select Dollar Deals $0.50 each.  The coloring books are nice ones and I got one little dust pan-I'd seen that in one once and thought it was a cute practical idea, so I got one.  I was able to use a $5 Beauty Club ECB & $1 Quarterly Spending ECB, so spend less than $2 of the gift card I won.  
(If you'd like to know more about shopping at CVS to save money, check out my other blog SimplyCVS ; click this link if you'd like to know more about 
entering blog giveaways to win gift cards)

We found these little wrist purses we didn't need any more that were new or like new, so thought they'd be good to throw in the older girls' shoeboxes.

 I got this on clearance at two different Dollar Generals.  UPDATE 2017--candy is no longer allowed.

I decided to split the dinosaurs up into 10 sets of 10, here's an example of one set they worked out to a quarter a set-so fun!

Dinosaurs packed in Easter eggs for Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
Thanks to the suggestion from reader Teresa Ross, I tried putting the sets in large Easter eggs, they fit great and are supper cute!

When I went looking in my spring decorations for the Easter eggs I found all these eggs I decided to put in the shoebox stash for making this and other little kits.  Also a bear I had to decorate for St. Patrick's Day, but I haven't been having time to decorate of late,  so I decided to give it...maybe even keep an eye open for clearance St. Patrick's items, for a themed Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

I found these pails I didn't think I needed anymore.  The big ones were from an Awana banquet centerpiece and I kept in case I could use it in the future, but I thought they'd be great for kids to carry toys around in, and the smaller one for an older girl to decorate with or something.

We had these puzzles, we only made one, decided the pieces were too small for us to all do with our back/shoulder health issues in our family, so we're donating them.

My grandmother got a PJ set for Christmas with these socks, since she can't use socks without grips, these will be going into shoeboxes.

Went through some of our craft supplies, found these beading supplies we didn't need anymore, so we thought we'd make kits to put in the girl's shoeboxes for them to have fun creating with.

And finally my mom and sister crocheted some more hats.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $10.70 

Spent from gift cards that I earned or won online: $1.94 

Added to stockpile:
  • 14 coloring books
  • 1 small decorative box
  • 1 small dust pan
  • 2 small purses
  • 1 nice sized stuffed animal
  • 1 small stuffed animals
  • 1 100 piece dino toy set
  • 4 bags of Smarties
  • 10 tins
  • 2 shaped plastic cases
  • 2 bags
  • 1 pen & paper pad
  • 2 jumbo pencils
  • 1 pad plain paper
  • 18 Easter eggs
  • 4 puzzles
  • 1 pair socks
  • 4 hats
  • 3 pails
  • Numerous beading supplies
Shoebox packing can be expensive but it doesn't have to be, as you can see from our finds around the house.  You may want to check out all the ways we Find Extra Money for Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes to see if there are any more ideas you may not have thought of.

Hand Made with Love Tags Printables for OCC Fillers

Merry Christmas hand made with love free printable tags.

If you read my blog, you know my mom and sister have been crocheting hats for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes & fillers to sent to the OCC processing center. They decided to put a "note" on them so the child would know it was a sign of love.  They came up with these cute tags to put one.  My mom also made a version for me to share here that says "Made by hand" instead of "Crocheted by

A Variety of Items ~ Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 1/2/2016

Quite a large variety of items added to our Operation Christmas Child stockpile this week.

Tin to pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox in.
 Here are some things we have found on hand.  The tin had cookies in it (but the stickers designating it as food are all removed).  It should hold about as much as a Go Box, but it won't take up more room than a basic plastic shoebox (see this post on details of What Kind of Box to use to Pack and Operation Christmas Child Shoebox)-it's so pretty, can't wait to pack a 10-14 girl's box in it!  Plus a couple small notebook and pencils we came across and didn't think we'd use, so we'll send them.  Plus when I was packing up some decorations I realized I had an extra one of this nutcrackers.  It was like new, and I liked having nutcrackers as a child, so thought it'd be cute to send.

Crochet scarf and hate.
My mom made this super pretty scarf and hat set, she hopes to enter it in the fair next year. 

My mom got some money towards shoeboxes for Christmas, and there was a craft store having a clearance sale, so my sister and I went and got some good stuff.  Fabric to go with the train set.  The scissors & tools are for my dad's 10-14 boy shoeboxes.  The sewing items are to add to my 10-14 girl boxes. 

Dollar General:   Blue Dot Toy was 50% off and the Christmas clearance was 75% off (now back to 50% off, there are reports it's was a glitch.)  The toy was $2.50, everything else was $0.25 except for the pencils which were $0.12.  

The soap at CVS was like $2.77, but I needed just a little over $2 to get my $5 beauty club ECB from spending $50 on beauty this year, so it' works out to free or better. 

Coloring and board book 50% off. 

I was looking through some of our toys we have on a shelf for if children visit, and came across this car, we'd bought at a garage sale, decided we had enough other toys, so into the shoebox stock it goes! :) 

A local dollar store had Christmas buy 1 get 1 free, so I got these bags for $0.50 each!!!  I'm afraid they'll show dirt easily as they're white-but they're sturdy and won't take up much room in a box and it's hard to beat $0.50 for a tote bag!  Plus some cute little stamps!

Plus my mom and sister crocheted 11 more Aunt Ida hats with free yarn.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $8.65

Spent from gift cards earned or that I have won online: $2.85 (hope to get $5 back in ECB)

Added to stockpile:
  • 5 tote bags
  • 6 mini stamps
  • 1 model car
  • 3 bars soap
  • 1 board book
  • 1 coloring book
  • 13 hats
  • 1 scarf
  • 3 decorative pencils with decorative eraser
  • 2 packs playing cards
  • 1 set cookie cutters
  • 1 Lego type set
  • 1 sheet stickers
  • 1 set penguin magnets
  • 8 scissors
  • 2 tools
  • 2 sets sewing tools
  • 1 packing tin
  • 2 mini notebooks
  • 1 mini nutcracker
  • 8 decorative pencils 
If you are looking for some craft ideas for your shoeboxes check out our Crafting For Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Tutorial Index.  Lots of illustrated instructions for items perfect for a shoebox.

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