September 30, 2018

Dear Project Leaders...a Letter From Your Church Media Team

One of the authors of this blog works on her church's media team, so we felt  it might help you with promoting or dedicating shoeboxes in your church to share some ideas from the Media Team perspective, and help the media team to help you, if we wrote a letter of things we've wished guest speakers had know before they showed up on Sunday morning to share.

Dear OCC Promoter,

Hi!  We're glad you're planning to share at our church soon about your love of shoeboxes!!  To help it go smoother for you to promote OCC and  make easier for us we wanted to share a couple things.  You may not know who we are-we may be a paid professional with a professional grade system, a person with little tech experience-but a willing heart to help, a teenager who brings our own laptop every week, or anything in-between.  But no matter who we are, practically all of us would LOVE to hear from you a couple weeks before you share, so we can be ready to help you help the children!  If you don't know who we are, just ask the pastor or music minister for our contact info.  Or, you're welcome to come on back/up to our table/booth and see if we're available to chat...but after the service please, we're very busy during the service and often before with last minute preparations/problem-solving/changes/additions!  And please understand if we have to say something just won't work-we'll be disappointed, too!

Some things it would help us to know:
  • Who/how many people will be speaking? (We may have more than one microphone, but may need time to prepare it, or may have a specific microphone we need you to use, etc.)
  • Do you have any other sound needs? (Like a song, video, etc.  Keep in mind we may not have a tape player, or alternatively may not be able to play a digital file, but given enough time, we will try to find a work around!)
  • Do you want anything on the screens?  (Like a video, photos, presentation, website address, etc.)    If so, please get it to us at least a week ahead of time (so we can load it in our computer and try it out on the screens and let you know if we run into problems) and if possible check in with us before you put much time into planning/preparing your screen presentation. (This can be important because we may have to reformat whatever you have to make it compatible with our technology.  Like I mentioned above we may not have a VCR or DVD player, or that may be all we have and can't  play a digital file-or may need a specific format of a digital file.  We may not be able to run a PowerPoint, but have to import it to a different program that may lose some of your animation, so please check with us before you put too much time into it-we hate to have to mess up all the work you put into it!  Videos may work better for us to download a video from the website than play the DVD, or visa versa.   Or one format (widescreen or traditional) may work better for our church's screens/computer than another.  If you aren't familiar with technology we may be able to help you with downloading a video-especially the more time we have!  But we may or may not be able to pull the picture/video you want to share from a website due to copyright or technical issues-often online photos are too small to show up well on screen.)   
  • Do you want it recorded? (If the church records sermons it may be an option to record your presentation, or it may not, but feel free to ask if you need a video for something!)
  • Do you want anything special with lights? (Off during video, if we have colored lights, we might even be able to do a red and green color scheme, etc).
We may not only need time to prepare/program things, but some things we may need to get approved up the chain of command so to speak.  The more time you can give us, the more we'll be able to help you have a smooth presentation to keep the focus on the boxes and kids!  Thank you!!

In His Service,
Your Church Media Team

September 29, 2018

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 9/29/2018 ~ A month's worth of supplies 87% off!

Haven't updated the blog in a while with my shoebox finds, so here's what I've found in the last month or so.  Was blessed to find some great deals on items we needed before packing!

This was back at Dollar General's 50% off clearance prices...looks like there's going to be "Lego" type bricks in our boxes this year!  ...which is great as I really liked Legos as a kid...well, maybe still do! ;)

Still a little short on socks this year, so picked this 3 pack up at a dollar store to check the quality/size.

Found some pens on clearance at Walgreens.

Freds seems to have started their annual clearance sale-only 50% off at the moment, but these socks were a good price-I'm keeping an eye out to see when they mark down to a lower price.

Got these on clearance at Hobby Lobby.  I thought they were mustache whistles like lip whistles, but they seem to more spin than make noise, so I'll just add them as a fun bonus.

A couple new coloring books from a thrift store.

I got a scanner coupon for Irish Spring at CVS, plus it was on sale w/ECBs back, so ended up getting it for like a quarter a bar instead of a dollar a bar!

I had been working hard at reviewing Office Depot Products and turning in ink cartridges (some I'd brought home when we changed the ink in the church sound board printer) to earn Office Depot Rewards, but hadn't seen any great deals like past years, so when they had a nice sale, I decided to stock up-managed to have enough rewards to get an order up to the free shipping minimum, plus found a 10% off coupon code online for more savings!  I was excited because I figured from what I saved it would work out to be like over $1 worth of items per shoebox we'll pack.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $37.87 
Spent from Free Office Depot Rewards: $37.46 
Saved $257.89  or  87%

Saved thru clearance:  $55.67 
Saved through thrift store prices $1.50 
Saved through Office Depot Sale: $150.38
Saved through Office Depot Discount code:  $3.90

Saved through spending Office Depot Rewards: $37.46

September 27, 2018

Snapshots of Themed Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Here's a snapshot of some of the shoeboxes I packed for Operation Christmas Child last year.

A fun frog themed box for a 10-14 year old boy.

I finally found a box to fit the balsam glider I misjudged the size of-haha!  

A fire and dog themed 5-9 boy shoebox.

10-14 girl box

Bunny and purple 10-14 girl shoebox.

My first soccer ball shoebox-this one for a 10-14 year old boy I believe.  

A very girly 10-14 year old girl box

Cat and bird themed 10-14 year old girl shoebox.

Yellow and duck themed shoebox for a 5-9 girl

Snowman themed 10-14 year old girl shoebox

A 2-4 year old girl shoebox with a very large stuffed animal-but managed to fit in a lot of other items!!

A very fancy/classy 10-14 girl shoebox. 

For more ideas/fun boxes, check out other shoeboxes we packed for boys, girls or our themed boxes!

September 19, 2018

Penguin Themed Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for a Girls

One of my favorite themes when shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child is penguins.  I don't know why, maybe because I have a few times (you can see past penguin themed shoeboxes here) and I like traditions. :)   I actually ended up doing two in 2017.  This was the main one, for a 10-14 year old girl.

Here's some photos  of how  I got it to fit including the little tin that I made into a hygiene/hair fun things kit.

When we make a themed Operation Christmas Child shoebox, we don't leave out anything on our basic packing list-I still put in hygiene, school, and art supplies, clothing, whistle, etc as well as toys (including a ball and stuffed animal) with a family photo.  We just try to find versions of what we are putting in that goes with the theme and occasionally an extra item or two.

I also had found so much stuff, I packed a 5-9 girl box as well...don't have it photographed as well, but here's a look to give you an idea.

For more ideas/fun boxes, check out other shoeboxes we packed for girls or our themed boxes!

September 15, 2018

Get 300 bonus SB when you sign up for Swagbucks in September

All throughout September you can earn bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks.

Disclosure: Links to Swagbucks in this post are my referral links. I also earned SB for sharing this promotion.

I like to share about Swagbucks from time to time as I know a lot of people (myself included) have found it helpful to their personal or shoebox packing budgets, and I want to give other people the chance to find out about it.  Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you're probably doing online already, like searching the web, watching videos, shopping, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart , or PayPal cash.  

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus (which you can redeem for $3 worth of most gift cards)! Here's how: 

1. Sign up using this link 

2. Earn 300 SB total before October 1st, 2018. You'll get a 300 SB bonus for it! 

3. That's it. It's super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I've earned a lot of PayPal rewards to use on various things.
Disclosure:  Links to Swagbucks in this post are my referral links.  I also earned SB for sharing this promotion.  Thank you for using my links it helps me earn extra SB.  The extra SB helps me afford the time to write the blog and keep up the Facebook page.

September 14, 2018

Free Poster of Shoebox Item Ideas

A few years ago we made a post of ideas of things to pack in a shoebox.  It seems to have been quite popular.  We've seen it used as mini handouts for shopping ideas and blown up supper large as a poster.  With changes to banned items last year it needed updated.  I had dreams of a total re-design as a design person.  Well...I just really kept not having the time to do that, so I mainly just updated the items, here's the new one.  Please note, this is for the USA, other countries have different requirements.   Hopefully you'll find it helpful-feel free to use however you find helpful!!

You can find shoebox supply collection posters thru this link:  Shoebox Printable Resources.

September 13, 2018

Panda Themed Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for a Girl Aged 10-14 Years Old

I have packed Panda themed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child a couple different years including last year.  This one started with a little trinket box with a panda on it and a pencil case in 2016.  I kept my eye open throughout 2017.  I found a bag clip that was shaped like a Panda head, and playing cards that featured a panda.  I found a notebook with a skunk...not quite a panda, but the same kinda idea.  Plus lots of pink items, and my mom sewed a tote bag from fabric I'd picked.  Then, the day before packing, I found a stuffed panda bear to bring it all together!!  One, non-panda item, I was really excited to add was we had gotten a small radio as a prize for signing up for something, so I was able to include it (it's laying on top of the jump rope) and I'd just read the story of Dania -and- A Radio.

When we make a themed Operation Christmas Child shoebox, we don't leave out anything on our basic packing list-I still put in hygiene, school, and art supplies, clothing, whistle, etc as well as toys (including a ball and stuffed animal) with a family photo.  We just try to find versions of what we are putting in that goes with the theme and occasionally an extra item or two.  Often people find it helpful to see how the box is packed to fit everything in, so here's some photos of how these items fit in the shoebox.

For more ideas/fun boxes, check out other shoeboxes we packed for 10-14 year old girls or our themed boxes!

September 12, 2018

Containers from MDSupplies & Services Review ~ Great for OCC Shoeboxes

Many people who pack shoeboxes like to make up small kits maybe for sewing, jewelry making, fishing, etc and that requires some time of container.  Or, you may want to be sure the child has some place to store something like a Lego set, Jacks game, etc.  There are a number of options  from MDSupplies & Service's special Shoebox Shoppers order form (Disclosure: post contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them).     MDSupplies & Services has helpfully made us who pack for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes a special order form of just items that can go in OCC it has FREE SHIPPING!!!

They sent me some free samples to check out, and I went around my shoebox stash and saw what would fit in various ones of them to give you some ideas of size and what can fit.  Some do require pretty big lots to order, so may be better for big packing parties, but then if you were just doing a few, you probably could just save some for yourself or with friends.  Some, though, are in lots as low as 12, which would be great for doing a few boxes.  

By the way, while we can't send medicines in shoeboxes, OCC has said the medicine bottles are fine to use if they've been cleaned out, and these would never have been used!  I would probably mark over anything that said something medical though.

These are your basic medicine bottles, and they come with lids sold separately.  These are the ones that would really probably work best if you're doing a big packing party as they come in large cases.  The lids aren't child resistant which I think is probably actually nice as we're sending them to children-Haha!  The lids do seem to snap on quite well!  (Note, in the photo above, those are smaller Jacks set from Kipp Brothers, and mini thread spools from a sewing kit)  Here they are listed from smallest to largest:

Bottles with out lids:

This option comes in three different colors  and come with caps.  The caps are reversible one way is child resistant and normal screw in lid.  The child resistant side is not too hard to open, but I'm not sure the recipients would be familiar with that concept.  Also, if you use them that way be sure not over-fill it; I did that and had to have my Dad force the lid off-haha! The normal screw side is pretty easy to get off-just be aware it screws INTO the bottle, so takes up a little space at the top.  I know some people like to use the open part of the top to make pin cushions.  (Note: these are mini sewing kit spools of thread)

This are probably my favorite bottles-really nice and sturdy!!  They have nice screw on lids.  I was especially excited when I saw the Lego type set I'd bought on clearance fit so well in the large one to make a Wow item!

These next two aren't exactly "Bottles" but are also fun to pack things in-and these are something you probably can't get from a friend-denture cases!  There are two different styles:

These Ortho Boxes - Denture, Assorted Colors (OB-2000)  $6.89 / Box of 12  are the cheaper, and smaller option.  They do have small draining holes in them.  The hinge is just a thin strip of plastic, so I'm not real sure how long it will last.  But I really had fun making different little kits with them and come in a fun assortment of colors!  They have a nice snapping close.

This is a larger/deeper option:  Ortho Boxes - Denture, Assorted Colors (OB-1000) $8.05 / Box of 12 These also come in an assortment of colors.  They don't have any drainage holes in them (as they're designed for soaking/cleaning dentures).  Their hinges are loops of plastic, and seem sturdier than did the flatter ones.  They seem to seal closed pretty well, and have little "legs" on the bottom.

Finally, here's a photo of them with a yard stick for scale:  

I hope this review helps someone...if you have any further questions, please just ask and you may want to check out the rest of my MD Supplies & Services Reviews for items appropriate for packing in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

Disclaimer: I received these products free to review, but the opinions are all my own.  Links in this post to MDSupplies & Services are affiliate links and I'll be compensated if you purchase after clicking on them which helps me afford the time to review items, write the blog, and keep up the Facebook page, etc.  And I only share things I pack/think are good for shoeboxes.

September 3, 2018

John Deere Farm Themed Shoebox for 10-14 Year Old Boy

When packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, I often like to pack around a theme-in this case a John Deere/farm.  We got a John Deere hat for free, then I stumbled on a John Deere themed coloring book.  So I went from there!

When we make a themed Operation Christmas Child shoebox, we don't leave out anything on my basic packing list-I still put in hygiene, school, and art supplies, clothing, whistle, etc as well as toys (including a ball and stuffed animal) with a family photo.  We just try to find versions of what we are putting in that goes with the theme and occasionally an extra item or two.  

Thankfully we had some farm fabric out of which to sew a pencil case.  A "deer" stuffed animal and a green and yellow tractor really helped to pull the theme together.  I also found lots of green and yellow versions of items I wanted to add to the box.
Often people find it helpful to see how the box is packed to fit everything in, so here's some photos of how these items fit in the shoebox.
For more ideas/fun boxes, check out other shoeboxes we packed for boys 10-14 years or our themed boxes!

September 1, 2018

Collecting Games for Shoeboxes Poster

Samaritan's Purse has suggested items of the month for packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, and for September, that's games!  As readers have found collection posters we've made for other shoebox items helpful to share with friends, family, church members, co-workers or fellow apartment building residents.  Here's what I came up with for games.  Feel free to share however it can help with your shoeboxes.  First, here's one to share if everyone knows where to drop the items off.

Also, made one with a blank to put in drop off info:
If you like this poster, you may want to check out our other collection posters.

PLEASE NOTE:  These posters are made based on USA rules, they may include items not allowed in your country's packing requirements. 

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