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

May 18, 2019

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ A Month worth of Donations and Deals ~ 5/18/2019

For those who don't follow my YouTube channel, I wanted to share the video here to show what we've gotten of late for shoebox packing!




April 20, 2019

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 4/20/2019 ~ Cars and Balls

We were able to stock up on a couple "shoebox staples".  First we found 3 packs of tennis balls at Mighty Dollar-score!!  We like to include balls in all of our boxes and tennis balls are sturdy.  Also picked up a couple fun little toys.  Then Dollar General had their B1G1 free Hotwheels sale, so we got some of those, too!



Spent from shoebox packing budget: $58.75
Saved $60 or 50%   

April 18, 2019

Lego Deal at Walmart

I saw Kecia post on the Official OCC Leader Forum about some Lego kits she found a deal on at Walmart.  When I looked at the Brickseek links and realized they were like 50% off, I thought I'd share the links-you know I like Lego!  Some are larger and may be good to split up among a number of shoeboxes, and any would make good gifts-or Lego brick stock building!

April 7, 2019

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


Disclosure:  Links to Swagbucks in this post are my referral links.  Thank you for using my links it helps me earn extra SB.  I also earned SB for sharing this promotion.


It's only 32 weeks until National Collection week, and if you're looking for a new way to come up with funds for shoebox items or shipping, why not try earning free gift cards through Swagbucks! All throughout April you can earn a nice bonus when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. 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, taking polls, playing games, 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! Here's how:

1. Sign up using this referral link

2. Earn 300 SB total before May 1st, 2019. You'll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. That's it. It's easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself!!

Looking for some ideas of how to earn 300 SB, well here's ten ways to easily earn your first 300 SB from Swagbucks online to receive your sign up bonus:




  1. Take the daily poll -- one SB per day -- found on homepage on left under "To Do List."

April 6, 2019

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 4/6/2019

So, it's been a while since I've done a Stockpile Saturday, so here's an update-just look at all those goodies!!!


If you'd like to see details of the items, check out this video:



Spent from shoebox packing budget: $3

April 4, 2019

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for 10-14 Year Old Boy- 2018





This is one of the boxes my Dad packed for a 10-14 year old boy.  The box is actually an envelope box-the bag and puzzle fit better that way, but it didn't take up more room than a shoebox-we figured the square area.

If you'd like ideas for other ages be sure to check out my posts on OCC shoeboxes from 2018 for: Girl 2-4, Boy 2-4, Girl 5-9, Boy 5-9, Girl 10-14, & Boy 10-14 (will be updated with links as I post those boxes, until I do, here's a link to all the shoebox examples posts). 

We like to try to add something practical in this age that might help them help provide for their family or start on a career, as in these countries they often need to around this age.  Something like a fishing kit, small tool kits, hand gardening tools (but not seeds), etc. In addition to more advanced school supplies like compasses and protractors to help them stay in school as these are often required for higher grades.  Of course, if you follow this blog, you know all our boxes get at least basic hygiene and school/art supplies, a clothing item, a ball, a stuffed animal, and a couple other toys.


What went into the OCC shoebox gift:

  • Hygiene Supplies:
  • School Supplies:
      • Pens
        • 1-Red
        • 1-Blue
        • 3-Black 
      • Pencils
        • 4-regular
        • 4-decorative 
        • 1-mechanical with extra leads
      • Sharpener 
      • Erasers
        • Block
        • Pencil caps
      • Spiral notebook 
      • Compass
      • Protractor
      • Decorative Rulder
      • Pencil Bag 
    • Art/craft supplies Supplies:
      • Colored pencils 
      • Plain paper pad 
    • Practical items: 
      • Tool type bag
      • Zip-ties
      • Work gloves
      • Sewing kit
      • Scissors
      • Fishing kit
    • Clothes:
      • Socks
      • Tank Top
    • Toys 
      • To play noisily or others
        • Ball
        • Whistle
        • Mini harmonica 
        • Marbles 
      • To play with quietly alone
        • BB game
        • Turtle Figure
        • Prism viewer
        • 3D Mantis Wooden Puzzle
        • To "love"
          • Stuffed lobster
      • Personal correspondence (not pictured)
        • Family photo  
      Here's more posts with ideas on shoeboxes 10-14 year old boys.

      March 18, 2019

      Simply Shoeboxes on Pinterest

      Simply Shoeboxes can be found on Pinterest pinning everything and anything to do with packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  You will only find boards and pins on this subject.



      We have boards including images, videos and stories from OCC distributions; tips and tricks for packing lots in a box; examples of all ages of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes; craft projects; and much more!  So  if you love packing OCC shoeboxes, stop by and follow Sarah at Simply Shoeboxes on Pinterest

      You can also keep up with us on: Simply Shoeboxes Facebook, Simply Shoeboxes YouTube Channel and sign up for emails to keep up to date on the posts we publish here at Simply Shoeboxes.

      March 16, 2019

      OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ More Free Deals ~ 3/16/2019

      I decided to just make a video of this week's additions to the shoebox stockpile instead of writing a post as it wasn't too many things, but didn't want to leave my blog readers out, so here it is.  If you're on YouTube you  might like to subscribe there, as sometimes I'll post things there instead of here.

       

      Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $2 

      March 14, 2019

      DIY Crochet Granny Square Lovey and Purchased Stuffed Animal Combo

      A crochet lovey attached to a purchased stuffed animal is perfect for my 2 to 4 year old Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  I include a stuffed animal and a lovey in every box, so combining them is fun and makes for a special, cute WOW item that can bring comfort to a child in crisis.


      I have seen dozens of patterns online for loveys that included a crochet animal head.  Because of physical limitations, crocheting those causes much pain, but I was drawn to them just the same.  My solution was to design a lovey I could attach to the adorable stuffed animals I had in my shoebox stockpile.  I began by using the case of these that I purchased with birthday money.  The tags on them say for all

      March 9, 2019

      OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 3/9/2019 ~ No Money Laid Out

      Didn't pick up much for our shoeboxes, but it sure is hard to beat the price...didn't spend anything from our shoebox packing budget.
      If you have a CVS card, be sure you have it set up to get emails from them, and check EVERY email you get from them.  Of late, I've been getting ECBs to print or send to card in them...sometimes more than one a week!  So Sunday I sent one for $3 ECB to my card, and when I shopped on Tuesday I was able to get some Valentines items 90% off...these plus a few for a senior ministry-all free!


      I also found this little lamb stuffed animal at Dollar Tree that "wanted to come home with me" haha!  So I used some of the money we've set aside from online earnings for impulse shoebox purchases. 



      My mom also crocheted a lot of hats for the DIY Quick to Crochet Child's Beanie Hat Pattern out of yarn we had laying around, so no financial expense.

      Spent from shoebox packing budget: $0

      Spent from cash or gift cards earned or won online: $1 

      Saved $19.00 or 100%

      Saved thru clearance:  $16.20 
      Saved through email ECB: $1.80
      Saved through money earned online: $1 

      DIY Quick to Crochet Child's Beanie Hat Pattern

      When crafting for my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes I look for quality and speed (since I make over a hundred of each item each year).  This quick to crochet child's beanie hat was designed with ease and speed in mind.  I used simple stitches, double and single crochet, and a large hook with medium weight yarn [size 4].  Simply Soft yarn is a lighter weight size 4 yarn so it took more stitches to make each hat, but it is my favorite yarn to work with as it glides easily thru my fingers, is soft and has a nice sheen.


      I also like Simply Soft made up with an I hook as it makes for a looser, more open finished design.  Since I don't know what countries my hats will be sent to, I like lighter weight, less "warm" hats.  That way if they go to a cold climate and the child has nothing, it will still provide more warmth than they had or they can wear it under a hooded coat for added warmth.  But in a warm climate with, what to the

      March 8, 2019

      Saving Money for Shoeboxes through Ebates

      If you follow this blog, you know we like to find ways to save money on shoebox items to be able to pack more and better boxes.  One easy way we like to do that is through rebates when we're shopping anyways. By the way, this post contains affiliate links which I'd love you to use if you're going to give Ebates a try.  They won't cost you anything to but I may get a small commission if you act through them which gives me more time to dedicate to this blog.

      Often we do this through Swagbucks (you can read more about that on my other blog: How to start saving at Swagbucks).  But another way that is easy and often you get more back is Ebates.  And now is a great time to try it as you can join free and get a $10 gift card after your first purchase of $25 or more.!!  And with how we shoebox shoppers like to hit clearance, etc-imagine what we could get with say a $10 Walmart Giftcard?  If you're unfamiliar with Ebates, here's how it works online
      • Sign Up is Free
      • Shop as usual but first stop at Ebates and click thru the link to the store you want to shop at.
      • Check Ebates for coupons for your order, too.
      • A percentage of your order total will be added to your Ebates account 
      • Then when it builds up to enough in your account they'll mail you a check.
      So, if this interests you, why not try it out?  Join free and get a $10 gift card after your first purchase of $25 or more.

      Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for 5-9 Year Old Boy- 2018

      I enjoy packing sheoboxes for kids around the world through Operation Christmas Child and I like looking at photos of shoeboxes others have packed, so I'm sharing some of mine.  This is one I packed for a 5-9 year old boy.  OCC requests that we use normal sized shoeboxes, this one is right around the size of the old GO box-about 300 cubic inches.  I was happily surprised at how much I could fit in with the large stuffed animal!

      If you'd like ideas for other ages be sure to check out my posts on OCC shoeboxes from 2018 for: Girl 2-4, Boy 2-4, Girl 5-9, Girl 10-14, & Boy 10-14 (will be updated with links as I post those boxes, until I do, here's a link to all the shoebox examples posts). 

      NOTE: Different countries have different restrictions on what can be packed in an Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes due to customs. Be sure to check the guidelines from your national organization before packing!


      What went into the OCC shoebox gift (Items with ** are on the list of "Wow" items):

      • Hygiene Supplies:
      • School Supplies:
          • Pens
            • 1-Red
            • 1-Blue
            • 1-Black
          • Pencils
            • 3-regular
            • 5-decorative 
          • Sharpener
          • Eraser  
          • Spiral notebook 
          • Mini composition book
          • Ruler
          • Kids Answers Magazine
          • Magnifying glass
        • Art Supplies:
          • Crayons
          • Multi colored pencil
          • Stickers
          • Large coloring book
          • Pad of plain paper 
          • Cars Maze
          • Practical items: 
            • Pencil bag
            • Whistle
          • Clothes:
            • Hat
            • Socks
            • Bandanna
          • Toys 
            • To play noisily or others
            • To play with quietly alone
              • Hotwheels type car
              • Prism viewer
              • Top
              • Animal figurines
              • Lenticular card
              • To "love"
                • Stuffed dog** 
            • Personal correspondence (not pictured)
              • Family photo 
              • Letter

            I know sometimes one of the hard things of packing shoeboxes is making things fit, and people have found it helpful to see how I've packed in the past, so here's a video of me un-packing it to show how it fit.

            March 7, 2019

            DIY Ribbon & Bead Necklaces for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

            Upcycling items into quality crafts for Operation Christmas Child is a great way to pack shoeboxes on a budget while enjoying the creativity of crafting.  Suzanne, from Sew Delightful, creates simple necklaces for shoeboxes from costume jewelry and ribbon.  She shops estate sales and thrift stores for deals on the jewelry as well as bulk beads and makes hundreds of unique, one of a kind, necklaces.  She also uses purchased pony and other beads she finds on clearance.  Suzanne is very generous and ships many of them to us to use in our shoeboxes each year.
            We shared an unboxing video on Simply Shoeboxes YouTube when two of Suzanne's boxes arrived in the mail; and interest was sparked in the necklaces.  I decided to share a quick overview here and on YouTube (see video below--it shows more of Suzanne's designs) so others could enjoy seeing them and making some of their own.  This is a great project for groups to do together -- even good for children to be a part of.
            Add brightly colored new beads to duller upcycled ones.

            Ribbon Necklaces Using Upcycled Costume Jewelry and Plastic Beads Tutorial

            March 2, 2019

            OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 3/2/2019 ~ Donations plus saved 82% on Deals

            Finally getting back to posting my Stockpile Saturdays.  And what a busy week to get back at it!!  We received donations, birthday gift orders, and got some great deals/clearance finds-check it all out below:


            We hit a few Dollar Generals to see what we could find on 90% off clearance-lots of goodies for shoeoboxes, also some fun items to use next year in our ministries to seniors.


            CVS was only 75% off, so still pretty high, but I had $4 in ECBs, plus, I had a $10 off $40, and was already buying about $20 for our household.  So, I added some items on (some in the picture above, some for senior ministry) and got them like half off 75% off, so like 87% off, plus $4 off for ECBs.


             
            Also picked up some Irish Spring on sale plus scanner coupon so worked out to about $0.25 a bar (old photo, didn't see the point of taking another photo packages of soap-LOL).

            I found some new wrapping paper and a new coloring book at a thrift store.




            We also found some more of the chunky pencils we like to put in 2-4 shoeboxes at Dollar General's 50% off clearance sale.


            So that was the items from our shoebox packing budget, here's a couple things....well, more than a couple! ;)  





            My mother chose to get some stuffed animals for shoeboxes for her birthday, you can see a review of them here and a video unboxing and look at their quality.


            We received a donation in the mail from Sew Delightful.  So many goodies, the photo just doesn't do it justice, so here's a link to our unboxing video:



            Spent from shoebox packing budget: $15.54  
            Saved $70.80  or  82% 

            March 1, 2019

            Lego Deal at Walmart

            Mallory let me know she found the Lego Classic Color boxes on clearance and WalMart and I looked it up, and those that still have them in stock mostly show $1 a box...normally $4-$5!!  I know Brickseek isn't 100% right, but you might want to check it out or look in store!  Lego make great additions to shoeboxes!

            LEGO¨ Classic Blue Creativity Box 10706 (78 Pieces)

            LEGO Classic Creativity Box, Green 10708 (66 Pieces)

            LEGO Classic Creativity Box, Orange 10709 (60 Pieces)

            LEGO Classic Creativity Box, Red 10707 (55 Pieces)

            Hope this helps someone!!  I don't always have times to share all deals, but I really like Lego, and wish I could pick these up myself, but my store seems out-maybe some of you will be able to get some!




            We like to pair our Lego and Lego type bricks with these base plates from Dollar Tree:
            If you're interested in the base plates and would like to buy a lot, would love for you to use my affiliate link - http://shrsl.com/1edo6  - to check them out-it won't cost you anything, but if you buy something through it I'll get a small commission which gives me more time to spend writing this blog, recording YouTube videos, and keep up the Facebook page and Pinterest boards

            Quality Crafts for Operation Christmas Child March Item of the Month

            We like to include quality crafts in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and are glad to see it included in the OCC Item of the Month list for March.  Over the years we have included sewn, crocheted, knit, upcycled, no-sew, paper crafts and more.  We work to make them quality items the children receiving them can enjoy.
            These are items I crafted for a shoebox a while ago.


            We often share crafting ideas and patterns through this site and on social media.  You can follow us on the following sites to keep up with all of our shoebox packing including sharing crafts:


            We have written dozens of craft tutorials for items perfect to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift.  You can find all of them by clicking the image below.


            We offer tutorials in the following categories if you would rather just check them out individually:



            You may also like to check out more things I've made for my OCC shoeboxes here:  Made by Cheryl.


            Two other places we like to check for OCC Shoebox craft ideas:


            We also receive handcrafted items from friends at opposite ends of the country:

            Chelle & Vicki, from Chelle's Caybees in NC
            Suzanne, from Sew Delightful in WA

            If you've never considered handcrafted items to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, you may want to check into it this year.  It's a great excuse to get a group of friends together to craft.

            You can also donate handcrafted items directly to OCC as fillers.  So if you find yourself crafting more than you can pack, find out more thru this link: Five Ways to Donate Fillers to Operation Christmas Child.



            February 27, 2019

            Plush Animal Review for OCC Shoeboxes from Dollar Tree

            I (Cheryl) enjoy receiving Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing items for my birthday.  This year I had gift money to spend and since I can't get out to shop much so I decided to order some plush stuffed animals from Dollar Tree since we include a stuffed animal in every shoebox.  I also was able to pay with Paypal and use a $5 coupon they had sent for my birthday.  Disclosure:  I will be including Sarah's affiliate links in my review below--if you shop thru them she'll be compensated, so you will help keep Simply Shoeboxes online at no extra cost to yourself.


            Below are my thoughts on quality, cuteness and appropriateness for including in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.  At the end of the post is also a video of our unboxing them and we show them in an OCC shoebox if you are interested.

            I never considered Dollar Tree stuffed animals much until last Easter when Sarah packed a shoebox from Dollar Tree's Easter section.  We normally buy more expensive ones on clearance.  She said in her post, "I have to say-I totally fell in love with these stuffed animals, often $1 stuffed animals are not that nice, but Dollar Tree often seems to have some nice ones, and these-especially the lamb-was SO CUTE!!!"  I just had to buy more of those this year, too as I also fell in love with them and was very satisfied with the quality.

            This image is from last year's stuffies, this year's have embroidered eyes instead.


            Ordering them online (Easter Floppy Plush Animals SKU: 284202 ) would mean I would get two styles of bunnies also (as they come in a case), and since we seem to always have an abundance of bunnies Sarah finds on clearance, I decided to just have her pick up some of the ducks and lambs when she picked up my order at our local Dollar Tree (free shipping to store).  I would definitely buy these again.  They seem sturdy, have embroidered faces and are adorable.



            My online order included Fuzzy Friends Plush Hanging Sloth SKU: 279941.  From the image online I thought these would be perfect for the 10 to 14 year old boys, except for the lightest one which I thought would be sweet for the 10 to 14 year old girl shoeboxes.  Being 14 inches long I knew they would need to fold over to fit in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox which should be no problem.  They were, indeed, long but very narrow so they fit with lots of room left over.  They are very soft with the exception of the felt feet & hands.  They have cute smiles tho a few faces were not stuffed full.  I think they are okay, but I personally would not choose to buy them again.  My husband packs our 10 to 14 year old boy boxes so I will need to see what he thinks.  He may like to buy them again.



            I also ordered a case of Fuzzy Friends Plush Sea Animals SKU: 243944.  I fell in love with the fish and the turtle.  I also thought the shark would be great for the older boys.  I think these are made well enough, but I was disappointed with the stiffness of the felt fins on the fish (not so cuddly), otherwise they are nice and soft. And I love the bright colors. The shark was also not as cute as I expected so I may not choose to order another case of these but I will need the opinions of the other packers in my family.  They are a good choice for the boy boxes.



            My last case was for Fuzzy Friends Plush Baby Animals SKU: 243946.  The giraffe just kept calling my name -- I couldn't resist.  He did not disappoint -- I think he was mine and Sarah's favorite.  This set of four animals were well made and all passed the cuteness test.  This is another set that I would be happy to order another case of when I need more animals.  I think they all would be great for either boy or girl Operation Christmas shoeboxes.



            When Sarah went to pick up the order at Dollar Tree she found another adorable duck.  I think this little guy is by far the best quality and the highest cuteness score, but unfortunately I have not been able to find him online.  Perhaps they will soon carry him online, too.



            I found the easiest way to find their full selection of stuffed animals was to search for "plush" on the Dollar Tree website.  Here is a direct link if you are interested:  Plush Search on Dollar Tree.


            To order online you need to order by the case (either 24 or 36 depending on style), or you can order less and pay a handling fee. Shipping to your local Dollar Tree store is free.  Dollar Tree often runs shipping deals, like currently shipping via UPS is just $1.00 (valid through 02/28/2019 at 12:50am ET).  Final disclosure:  links in this post to Dollar Tree are affiliate links-meaning Sarah makes a small commission when an order is placed thru one of them.

            I definitely plan on ordering more plush animals from Dollar Tree for filling our future Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

            February 18, 2019

            Shopping Year-Round for Shoeboxes for Greater Value



            If you follow this blog you'll have seen my Stockpile Saturday posts and know I like to shop year round for shoeboxes, I thought I'd write a post to illustrate why.  So, in between National Collection Weeks 2017 and 2018, I set aside some of the best deals I found to make a sample box to show an example of just how great of a box one can pack for just how great of a price just by keeping one's eyes open at various stores.  So here's the sample 10-14 year old shoebox for a boy.

            The retail value of the box is $113.65, but we only spent $4.54!!!   This is a slightly extreme example, and you might not be able to find these exact deals, but I'd say in 2018 we averaged less than that spent per box after deals, donations, and crafting and the value per box was over $25.  Here's another example boxes from deals shopping year round.

            So, how did I get those deals?  There's a few different ways:  shopping CVS deals (combining coupons, sales and ECBs), Dollar General Clearance, Bargin Hunt deals (as little as a quarter), etc.  I also had free samples/promotional items I didn't need myself. Another big way to get deals was through Office Depot Rewards (read more on my other blog here) I got items at no cost to me, I just used rewards I got for turning in used ink cartridges and reviewing items.  Here's a video that breaks it all down:



            Disclaimer:  unlike our yearly boxes I share, this is a  sample box to see for myself and show what could be done in a blog post, this exact boxes was not sent intact as these items were based on value/deals not choosing to go together, but it is a good mix/example of what I put in boxes.

            February 14, 2019

            Simply Shoeboxes on YouTube


            Hi everyone!  Today is the 14th anniversary of YouTube started, so thought I'd share our YouTube channel! We started a YouTube Channel about a year and a half ago-don't have the best equipment or voice for it, but people seem to be enjoying them, and the pace seems to be picking up with videos. Actually, of late, I seem to be getting more videos done than blog posts.  If you haven't yet, you might like to check us out at: Simply Shoeboxes on YouTube!

            January 30, 2019

            Shoebox Email a Long Time Coming

            We recently checked our email and saw an email from a name we didn't recognize with the subject line "A message from an old friend!"  Now, normally that might look like spam, but since we send our email address in our shoeboxes, so thought I might should give it a look, then noticed that it had two photos attached and the preview showed they were a photo card we'd sent in shoeboxes and my mom's handwriting.  It turns out the email was from a child who received a shoebox we sent...in 2011!  They are now 15 years old.  They live in Ecuador.  I won't share the whole email here, as it is personal communication, and I feel funny about that, but will share a few snippets below.  As often with shoebox replies he apologized for his English not being very good, but it's better than any of my languages outside English-haha!

            "I want you to know that I enjoyed the gifts that with so much love sent me 8 years ago and I want to tell you that God bless you always and have a good and long life to continue worshiping the Lord"

            The fact that they not only remembered the box and had a desire to thank us after 7 years, but had held on to the photo shows the impact it had, and how important being sure to include a photo, note, and/or letter can be



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