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Kid's shoebox packing party for Operation Christmas Child

This year I organized the Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party for the kids at our church.  I thought I'd share some info on how I did it/it went incase that would help someone else with their organizing.

First I made a plan of what I could afford to pack, with some donations I was able to add a few more items.  I was trying to fill 48 with a budget of $500, including shipping.  Here's a picture of what went in the boxes:

What went in the boxes/budget:
Hygiene Kit  ($19.47 + tax) …worth $51.63 + tax
  • Combs ($2.19) …worth $2.19
  • Toothbrushs ($4.80) …worth $4.80
  • Soaps ($10.56) …worth $16.80
  • Ziplock bags for soap ($1.92) …worth $3.84
  • Golf Towels/washcloths (free-donated)  …worth $24

School Supply Kit ($56.73 + tax) …worth $230.61+ tax
  • 2 Pens ($5.48) …worth $22.56
  • 4 Erasers  (included with pencil kit)
  • 4 Pencils ($9.38) …worth $42.32
  • 1 Scissors ($7.20) …worth $48
  • 1 Pencil Sharpeners ($4.48) …worth $10.98 
  • 1 Sheet Stickers (included with pencil kit)
  • 1 Ruller/Protractor/stencil ($9.27) …worth $9.27
  • 1 Lined Spiral Bound Notebook ($7.96) …worth $25
  • 1 Plain Paper  (free-Elizabeth can make some booklets on the copier) …worth $24
  • 1 Coloring book (free-Elizabeth can make some booklets on the copier) …worth $24
  • 1 Crayons/colored pencils ($12) …worth $22.56
  • Ziplock bag for crayons ($0.96) …worth $1.92

Practical items subtotal=$76.20 + tax.   Worth $282.24 + tax

Fun Stuff ($70.40 + tax) …worth $375.65 + tax
  • 1 Hat (free) …worth $100
  • 1 Bowl/Water bottle ($3) …worth $18
  • 1 Stuffed Animal or doll ($30.97) …worth $123.85
  • 1 Ball (free) …worth $14
  • 1 Toy/jumprope ($12.61) …worth $30
  • Animal puzzle+ bag ($8.96) …worth $50
  • 3 Bonus mini items  ($3.50) …worth $25
  • Photos ($3.36) …worth $4.80
  • Candy/gum ($8) …worth $10
  • Bags for girls candy ($0.96) …worth $1.92
  • Marble bags/blankets (free) …worth $48

 Fun items subtotal=$71.36 + tax = $76.18

Filler items total=$147.56+ tax = $157.53 (or $3.28 per box)

Worth approximately : $707.81 + tax = $755.59 (or $15.74 per box)

To make it easier to be sure everything got in, I made some kits/pre bagged some things.

I made hygiene kits-I wrapped a double bagged soap, comb, and toothbrush in a washcloth or towel and tied it up.

I made school supply and art supply kits.  As a base to the school supply kits was a kit with a pencil, stickers, and small erasers I bought on clearance from USA Toy, the package it came in could also hold 3 more pencils, 2 pens, a ruler, and a pencil sharpener.  I put the crayons in a bag in case they melted (see my test of crayons holding up in heat) and put the scissors in it, too to make less things to pick up.

Also, not pictured, but prepared was candy (double bagged, or put in the water bottle). [UPDATE 2017:  candy is no longer allowed.]  Also the foam animal puzzle pieces and instructions, plus the three small bonus items went in their own zippered plastic bag. 

I put each item (or bagged set) in its own box/tray, so the children could just take one item from each box.  I put in the exact number needed, so at the end we could better tell if every box got everything.

Now for how I set up the party on-site.  The room needed used earlier on the same Sunday as the packing party, but there was this table I could set up ahead of time.  The top was all set for the packing party.  Boxes labeled, and with a few preliminary items put in sat on tip.  Under each stack of boxes was a sign, so the children could choose if they wanted to pack for a boy or a girl, and the box would already have labels.  Underneath I stacked the supplies ready to be laid out, girl supplies under girl boxes, and boys' under boys'.

This was a handout I had for the leaders:
(I didn't end up handing it out to everyone, just my Dad and the other person doing the main helping run it, but it was there incase it was needed)

These items have been carefully chosen to cover various categories and needs of the children; they do all fit, it’s been tested.
It is important every box gets every item on this list!  

The kids should have 10 things to put in each box.  

Put in/on before packing:
  1. Label boxes (23 girl, 23 boy, plus filled samples) in two different stacks
  2. Note/Photo  
  3. Coloring book   
  4. Sketch book  

The children will get a box at the start and look at the label to see if they should go to the girl or boy side of the table (hopefully there’s enough for each child to pack one for the same gender)

Then they’ll go down the line, putting one item from each box on their side of the table in their shoebox.

Boys & Girls separate:
  1. Hat (handmade toboggan for girls, baseball for boys)  
  2. Toys zip lock bag (animal puzzle, noisemakers, etc. bag has “Merry Christmas” on it)
  3. Bowl (girls) or water bottle (boys) with candy 
  4. Art supply kit (crayons & scissors)  
  5. School supply kit (pencils, ruler, etc) 
  6. Hygiene kit (toothbrush, comb & soap wrapped in washcloth or golf towel) 
  7. Ball
  8. Doll (g) or stuffed animal (b)
  9. Jumprope 
  10. Blanket (g) or Marbles (b)

Boys and girls together add in at end:
1. Spiral notebooks (can fit if slid along back then folded over as box is closed) 

Then the box will need rubber banded and possibly checked to be sure all is in and fits.

Once the room was available, my Dad and I moved the tables into place, and laid out the boxes of items to fill the shoeboxes with, in the order the items appeared on the list on the leader handout.  I had tested packing it in different orders, and that was the way I thought it'd fit in best.  The end of each table line was a sign matching the ones under the empty boxes, so the girl items went in the girl boxes and the boy items in boy boxes.

Some of the kids getting their boxes to pack:

Overall, I think it went well.  After the kids had packed the boxes, there were a few items left, or too many taken out of, so we looked through the boxes real quick, and fixed it.  Some things I'd do differently another time:
  1. Have a few more leaders to help oversee the kids.
  2. Make sure there's space on the table in front of the filler items for the children to set the boxes down while picking items.
  3. I'd spread out the boxes of items more-maybe add an extra table, so there wouldn't be as much of a backup.

You don't have to use official OCC GO boxes for a packing party.  Check out this post for information on different types of shoeboxes to pack for Operation Christmas Child.

For more OCC packing party ideas and images of our kids packing party from 2013 checkout the post sin this series:  Spur of the Moment Operation Christmas Child Packing Party.

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