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Territory and State Themed Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

There was a challenge on Shoebox Shoppers page on Facebook to pack "10 for Texas" Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.  In addition to donating to relief organizations, it gave us something personal to do to help those packers affected Hurricane Harvey-some had their boxes or packing supplies destroyed-to pack boxes in their place (they won't get these boxes, Samaritan's Purse is helping there in other ways).  Then came Irma, and packers in Florida were affected, and while I haven't heard first hand, I'm sure Puerto Rico won't be able to pack many, if any, boxes this year.  So, I decided it would make it a more personal way of supporting those in those states and territory if I packed one box themed around that location.  I posted on my Simply Shoeboxes Facebook page for ideas.  I was able to find almost enough in our stash to pack the themes, my mom and sister sewed a couple things and I bought one or two things, but on the whole, it was just carefully selecting from the supplies we had on hand.  Then came the California wildfires and accounts of packers forced from their homes and churches with shoeboxes in them threatened with flames...so I packed one for them, too!  Unfortunately, we'd already packed a lot of our boxes by then, so had less to pick from, but I think it turned out good, too!

When I do a theme box, what that means, while I stick to my normal list of things to include, I try to find versions of those items that fit the theme.  I may add an extra unique item or two, but on the whole it's the same list, just different types.  My basic list for those interested is:

  • Hygiene supplies (soap & case; toothbrush & case; washcloth; comb)
  • School supplies (lined paper, pens, pencils, sharpener, eraser, ruler, etc.)
  • Art supplies (crayons, watercolors, and/or colored pencils; plain paper and/or coloring book; stickers, etc.)
  • Ball
  • Stuffed Animal
  • Toy
  • Game
  • Something to wear
  • Whistle
  • Some sort of container (maybe a bag or tin)
  • And a family photo (not pictured below)
 And here's how the boxes turned out:

This was the one for Texas, probably my favorite how it worked out!   I tried to go with red and blue from the flag.  The Texas teddy bear is actually what gave me the idea!  I found we had a Lincoln Logs type kit left from last year (it was a 3 pack, we split it up into 3), and we had the horse, I found the cowboy to go with it.  Found pickup trucks in our Hotwheels stash, color your horse, farm and milk coloring books.  The orange hat reminded me of hunters.  The woven cloth with the soap looked western to me.  And the 3-step Bandanna Drawstring Bag my mom made was just perfect!   Here's how it was packed into the box:

It was a bit of a challenge with the big "log cabin", but it ended up working out okay! I used the trick of standing up the notebook and coloring books in the back to make them fit.  As you can see the lid closes...just needs a label and rubberband added!

I went with a lamb for Puerto Rico's stuffed animal as it was in their coat of arms.  I went with baseball for the ball and pencil sharpener as a couple players on our Indian's team are from Puerto Rico. For a lot of the rest of the items I relied on ideas from my readers.  One thing a lot of people said was colorful.  So, I went with crayons AND watercolors (since watercolors seems "islandy" to me-haha!), a construction paper pad, colorful covers on notebooks (lined and unlined), and colorful headbands.  My mom made me a Simple Lined Drawstring Bag from fabric with colorful sailboats.  Some people mentioned their frog, so I put one of my Hopping Frog Games in and a little frog figurine.  Another mentioned lizards, and I had a figurine of a lizard.  Tropical birds were mentioned, so I sent one of the mazes we had with one on.  At least one person mentioned roosters, and the one threading kit we had left was a rooster!  How it went in:

I was able to fit the crayons, whistle, and one or two other little things in with the dominoes which I wanted to send as I understand it's popular in the Caribbean.

I went "beach" for Florida.  Flipflops, boat, "beach ball", fish, fish shaped "magic" towel, fish button on the crocheted bracelet, sea shell necklace, and fish Spirograph type toy.  Someone mentioned Finding Dory items, and we had these cute lenticular Valentines-perfect!  My mom sewed a Fat Quarter Library Bag from some adorable fish and star fish fabric, it also reflected what ended up being a pink, purple, and yellow themed box.  For the stuffed animals, I went with a flamingo, but it was little, so it got a "seahorse" for a friend.  The cat figurine is because it reminded me of a young Florida panther.

I find flip flops fit in best if I lay them separately, with the flat bottoms against the flat sides of the box.

To kick it off, you may not be able to see it well, but in the back right is a Lakers themed notepad and pen, and I found a Lakers Basketball card and basketball pencil sharpener to go with it.  To go with CA, I put in a Monsters, Inc and Avengers pencils in there, too!  I was excited to find this Drawstring Pencil Bag we already had sewn with beach and boom boxes...seemed appropriate!  The Hotwheels were fancy sports cars.  Since there is a bear on the state flag, I chose one as the stuffed animal and on the notebook.  Since there's a dairy industry I send a dairy key-chain and coloring book.   I included a gold medal as a tribute to the LA Olympics and a gold pen as a reminder of the gold rush.

I was able to fit the water bottle in by filling it with the washcloth, cars, mini robot, and gold medal. 

Ended up being fun and turning out well I think...I think I'll have to do more states going forward!


Talia said...

These are so fun! In the future, I think I'm going to try and do one in a theme for my home state-Indiana. Sounds like a fun challenge, thanks for the inspiration!

Lin K said...

Can you tell us about the plastic boxes you packed that have the OCC shoe box look? Are these new?

Sarah said...

Talia-thanks! That sounds fun!

Lin-yes, they are new this year, you can order 12 packs online (https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/order-pre-printed-shoeboxes/) and they are also available (while supplies last) for purchase at Hobby Lobby stores. They're designed to be sturdier than normal plastic boxes.

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