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Lots of Goodies for OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 2/25/2017

I decided to post our additions to our Operation Christmas Child shoebox stockpile a day early this week as I'm busy this evening and most of tomorrow at my church, so anything else I get this week will go on next week's post!

I stopped in Mighty Dollar to look for more of these foam puzzles-thankfully they still had some left in stock, and the clerk helpfully got me this box to carry them out in.  I plan to split each one up into 6 different kits with instructions and put them in the 5-9 year olds shoeboxes I plan to pack with the kids at church.

I also got some of the model cars to compare quality to HotWheels.   And some different options to try out for draw strings.  Here are some of the photos comparing to a HotWheel we had.  They weren't as bad as I thought.  They weighed less than half as much, and didn't have as much detail, but it rolled well and seemed decently sturdy.


I got some more of Dollar Tree soap with coupons like last week, 2 printable coupons and one insert coupon.

I got a good deal on some really nice toothbrushes at CVS this week!

My sister's been finding some new looking stuffed animals at a local charity thrift store.  Some still have tags on them.  If you are interested you can read why we include a stuffed animal in each of our shoeboxes.
Include a stuffed animal in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

I hit Walgreen's 70% off Vday clearance and got these cute self-inking stamps!  (note: if you got these, you might want to tape the lids on-as my sister was taking them out of packaging she noticed they were lose and was concerned about them staying moist/working until they arrived, so she added a bit of tape)

I found a few fun little things at Hobby Lobby's 80% off Vday clearance.

My sister crocheted hats and attached the "Hand Made with Love tags" we designed.

Aunt Ida Hats

My mom sewed 5 of these reversible pencil cases, you can see instructions here

Pencil cases sewn for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $28.88

Spent from gift cards I earned or won online: $0.95

Added to stockpile:
  • 16 sets of 6 foam puzzles for a total of 96 bags of 3d puzzles
  • 5 die-cast cars
  • Drawstring for bags
  • 18 bars of soap
  • 2 toothbrushes
  • 7 stuffed animals
  • 10 stamps
  • 12 mini note-pads (probably for Pencil Granny pencil packs)
  • 36 lip whistles 
  • 8 hats
  • 5 pencil cases

What did you add to your Operation Christmas Child stockpile this week?

Simple Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern and Tutorial ~ Perfect for OCC Pencil Pouch or Hygiene Supplies

Drawstring bag pattern perfect for packing in Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

We use a lot of handmade drawstring bags in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and I am always looking for an easier way to sew them so I can go faster and make more (especially since I need to make them for our own shoeboxes and the kids' packing party at church).  This is my newest version:  a lined drawstring pouch just the right size for pencils and other small school supplies or to hold the hygiene supplies we include (soap, washcloth, toothbrush, comb, etc.).  I've decided to share my Simple Drawstring Bag Pattern and Tutorial

Soap Deals for OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 2/18/2017

I managed to majorly add to my soap stockpile this week for Operation Christmas Child-both by some great deals (details on the soap deals/shopping trip here) and a couple hotel bars I found in some luggage.

My sister crocheted some hats from our yarn stash and my mom sewed some bags from some fabric scraps we had lying around, some pencil sized, some larger.  You can see instructions for similar ones on our DIY craft page:

Crafting for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

We also had this hair clip we'd bought in a multi-pack we bought, but didn't want this color...so SHOEBOXES!

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $2.16

Added to stockpile:
  • 24 bars of soap
  • 6 hats
  • 4 bags 
  • 1 hair-clip 
Each Saturday Sarah shares the additions to our OCC stockpile.  You can see them all here:  Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ Adding to Our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile.

Family Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party 2016

I know this is a little late for last year, but I finally got time to type it up, so I thought I'd share in case it helps others in planning smaller Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing parties.  We are 4-5 adults who pack about 50 boxes on a Saturday. We are all knowledgeable about shoeboxes, and try to fit as much in our boxes as possible and make them personal.  So, rather than have a tightly set list and controlled number of items, we all choose what we want to/can put in.  You can see various other ways we've done packing parties for various groups over the years here.

School supplies for packing in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

In the past I've tried to pre-pack the pencil packs, and set out with each age group the right number of other items with each age groups' packing area, but this year I didn't have time to do that so I just laid it out all out together.  This side was art

Mighty Dollar Shopping for OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 2/11/2017

I had a great visit to Mighty Dollar this week for my Operation Christmas Child stockpile...found Valentines packs in a BOGO cart-worked out to 32 pencils for $1!!!  Then I found a 20 pack of pencils I thought I'd try (I'm hoping to do a pencil test soon like our crayon test), some fishing bobbers/floats for fishing kits, a "Lego" type kit for a dinosaur theme box I hope to do.  Finally, when I was about to leave I saw the toothbrushes in someone's cart and realized I'd forgot to look, so I went and got some of them...you can see my review of them here.

Mighty Dollar deal shopping for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

I also found this game I was going to possibly send in a care package to a family member in the armed services, but his tour is up, and I never sent it, so now it'll go to shoebox packing...

I also received my free sample of Poise I saw on Shoeboxes on a Shoestring on Facebook, which I mainly wanted for this cute case for shoeboxes.  Not quite long enough to put more than a couple pencils in, but it'll be cute for something and the only place it says "Poise" is embossed on the zipper pull.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $18.15

Added to stockpile:
  • 180 pencils
  • 80 toothbrushes
  • 20 bobbers for fising kits
  • 1 Lego type kit
  • 1 Peg game
  • 1 zippered case
Wondering how we keep our stockpile until packing time?  Check out our  Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile Organization posts.  You'll see we've changed it over the years.

NEW SIGHT Toothbrush Review ~ Great for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

NEW SIGHT toothbrush review.One thing we always like to include in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is hygiene supplies-like a bar of soap, washcloth, comb, & toothbrush.  Sometimes toothbrushes can be a bit hard to find at a good price.  Just walking into a drug store could result in spending $2-$5.  Those would be very nice, but a bit expensive without coupons/deals, when I can sometimes get them free (see my blog Simply CVS if you want to know more about that).  Often you can find toothbrushes in multi-packs at dollar stores or bulk online, but I'm often concerned what the quality

OCC guest post: A day at the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Processing Center

A Day at the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Processing CenterI know many people wonder what happens at the Operation Christmas Child Processing centers.  Since I haven't been in a few years, I asked Stephanie Seymore who is an Area Coordinator for Lower Eastern NC area team and runs the FACEBOOK page called "Shoebox Shoppers" to share about it.

A day at the Processing Center

If you love to pack shoeboxes and haven’t had an opportunity to go to one of the Operation Christmas Child Processing Centers you need to try and make it happen. There are processing centers in Baltimore, MD, Charlotte, NC, Boone, NC, Atlanta, GA, Dallas, Tx, Minneapolis, MN, Denver, CO and Orange County, CA. OCC headquarters are in Boone and the largest processing center by far is the one in Charlotte.  The Boone and Charlotte PC’s are permanent. Boone is the headquarters for all the Samaritan’s Purse ministries and Charlotte houses the offices for the Carolina’s Region (the region I volunteer in) and processes the largest number of boxes by far. The others may change their location in that city from one year to the next as they are just there seasonally. 

A full shoebox at Operation Christmas Child processing centerIf you are new to shoeboxes you may not understand what the whole “processing” thing means.  Each box that is collected around the country must go through a processing center. The $7 $9 shipping donation is removed or if you chose to do your shipping donation online and track your box, it will be scanned at the processing center.  Each box will be inspected to make sure there are no inappropriate items inside.  If inappropriate items are found they are removed and ideally filler items are added to replace them.  Inappropriate items include food, seeds, breakables, war related items, used items, weapons, and starting this year candy and toothpaste. In addition to removing and replacing inappropriate items, unfortunately there are many boxes that are very under packed and these need filer items added to make each box something a child would love to receive. (more on fillers later)

To make this whole process of inspecting millions of shoeboxes happen (in about 3 ½ weeks) the ministry needs lots of volunteers.  That’s where we come in.  :) Starting in late July or early August an online site opens through the ministry that allows people to sign up to come and volunteer at one of the PC’s.  You can go online and register for yourself individually or for a group if you want to bring a church or some other group together.  My church takes a bus and we take between 40-50 each year for 2 days of volunteering. I’m sharing about the experience you might have at the Charlotte PC.  The others are smaller and may have some difference.

When you reserve your spots online you will receive some information to fill out in advance to help the whole process go smoother when you show up for your shift.  If you are in charge of a group you can get all this paperwork from them as well.  I’m not sure how all the other PC’s work but the Charlotte PC has a list of hotels nearby that offer reduced rates for OCC volunteers.

Usually the spots to volunteer fill up quickly so you want to reserve early. The Charlotte PC can handle well over 1000 volunteers at a time and this year they processed right around 2 ½ million shoeboxes in that 3 ½ week period.  I was able to go twice this year and work several different jobs.  Over the years I have done just about every job that is available and all of them are great fun!
Volunteering at Operation Christmas Child processing center

When you show up to work your shift at the PC you will sign yourself or your group in with the person at the door.  You have your prefilled out paperwork and everyone gets his or her nametags.  Various groups of around 50 get taken to various areas to watch a video welcome from Franklin Graham along with a video about the various things that will be happening during your visit.  This year there was a new video and it was really cute. Afterward there is someone to answer questions.  This whole process takes about 10 minutes.  If you are working multiple shifts/days you only need to go through this process once.

Once you are finished with orientation you go to the placers.  I got to do this job this year for a morning and I have a lot of respect and appreciation for these workers.  It’s a stressful job.  Basically as the groups come up to be assigned there is a big board listing all the processing tables, filler areas, hospital, seated jobs, heavy lifting jobs etc. and that person keeps track of where everyone is going, how many people are in each place, how long they are staying etc.  For the Charlotte PC that can be well over 1000 people.  The board looks like a very large version of what a waitress uses at a large restaurant to keep track of where everyone is going.

Operation Christmas Child processing center tableOnce they determine how many are in your group you wait in line until you are escorted to your work area.  At this point if you have males in your group they get excited and always ask if they are available to do heavy lifting jobs.  Our church has always brought about 6 or so men including my husband and oldest son and they feel very special at this point.  😊 This year we had about 17 men so everyone was very glad to see us.  If you have someone in your group that can’t stand for long periods they take them to the various sit down jobs.  Usually they can bag soap and other filler items at tables.  If they need people to work in the shoebox hospital repacking boxes that have broken or that have been damaged by liquids they will ask for volunteers and take you to those areas.  The same applies for the various filler items.  They need people to continually fill up the bins that contain filler items at each table. This is a busy job because so many boxes come in under filled and need a lot of help to make them able to be sent out.  At the PC’s we plow through filler and often there isn’t enough. (side note) Everyone is welcome to send in extra filler items when they come to volunteer but in theory we can’t make a dent with our donated filler.  What we need are LARGE donations from businesses and corporations to fill the need.  I’m not saying not to send filler.  But please don’t stop packing boxes just to focus on the filler.  The ministry expressly asked us to tell people that.  We need all the boxes we can get to reach all the many needy kiddos.  What each of us can do is help teach people how to pack a good, full box.  Everyone can educate.

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Filler Items at Processing Center

There are runners who take each group to their assigned area.  In Charlotte there

Free Coloring Books for OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 2/4/2017

For those of you who didn't see it on our Simply Shoeboxes Facebook page, my grandmother who lives with us Contracted C.Diff last fall: last week Hospice came in, don't really have a timeline could be months, could be days if she gets another infection, just repeated infections have weakened her. As of now, she's home and we hope to keep her here until the end, if possible. Would appreciate prayers for grace, peace, strength, and wisdom for all involved.  Our pastor read James 1:27 at church this week " Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (NASB)  It was kinda cool and encouraging...Grandmother + shoeboxes is kind of widows and orphans!!

Anyhow, all that to say, we haven't been able to get out and shop much lately.  Being able to get stuff online for shoeboxes is nice at a time like this, helps distract one somewhat, and work toward the shoebox goal while still being there from Grandmother.   Things like working towards gift cards online. Or ordering things.  In this case, ordering free coloring books I knew about thanks to Clip with Purpose on Facebook!  They're 12 sheets/24 pages, so not real big, but a fun addition that can encourage the child toward nursing/helping others, or maybe make them more comfortable with medical professionals!

Free coloring books for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 25 Spanish coloring books
  • 10 English coloring books
We have made our own coloring books, too, in the past.  We've shared a tutorial on how here:  DIY Small Coloring Books & Sketch Pads for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

February Item of the Month for OCC Shoeboxes ~ Accessories

Operation Christmas Child Item of the Month:  Accessories
Samaritan's Purse has suggested items of the month for packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, and for February it is accessories...like jewelry, watches, hair bows, etc.  These are fun extras to add to a box.  They often don't take up much room, so can be a fun way to add more items in the limited space of an OCC shoebox!

Accessories can be on the more practical side-sunglasses, watches, headbands to keep hair out of the way or toward the more fun side like jewelry.  As a child accessories can make one feel special

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