This morning I shopped for and packed my shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. This is the tenth year my church has participated in this wonderful mission project. I always start with an empty box; then I pray as I walk the aisle, and search for just the right thing to fit in the shoebox. I have to admit; I hadn’t a clue if everything I bought this morning would fit.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to work at the distribution center and a woman who had been the recipient of a shoebox as a child, spoke to us on our break. Her gift box included a box of pencils. In fear of someone else at the orphanage stealing her pencils, she slept with them. My shoebox will always include pencils, a pencil sharpener, and notepads.
While in Africa, my niece witnessed some of the children with whom she’d been working receive shoeboxes. They had no idea what to do with the toothpaste, so I added more pencils and left out the toothpaste.
I know from experience on the mission field that if you bounce a ball, children come running. That’s why I include a durable rubber ball in my box for the toy. Many of the children in Africa don’t have dishes to hold their food, so I try to cram in a plastic cup, bowl, and a metal spoon.
A necessity for the shoebox is soap. You have no idea how much this is needed unless you’ve visited a poverty stricken nation. I managed to squeeze three bars of soap, and a good quality wash cloth is layered on the bottom with a canvas shopping bag. That all purpose bag will be used until it’s completely worn out.
Somehow, I managed to pack in eight pairs of girls underwear, a top, and sweatpants. These clothes will be worn daily until they literally fall off.
We pack the boxes in November, and it was the following September when the children received shoeboxes in Africa. So, I make sure the to send hard candy that will not perish to fill in the empty space. I also include a comb, chapstick, and ponytail holders to fill in the tiniest of spaces.
Whatever you do, please make sure to deliver your shoebox on time to your local church or collection organization. The first year, I made my shoebox but missed the date. The child who should have received a gift was left empty handed because of my procrastination. I won’t let that happen again.
Be sure to leave a note on your box to tell the child that Jesus loves him or her. Close it, and wrap at least two rubber bands around the top. Your box will be examined at the Operations Center to ensure no liquids or inappropriate items are inside, but the worker will re-pack your items with care.
God blessed me with the chance to meet another Operation Christmas Child recipient at our hotel. He told me that receiving the shoebox made a difference in his life. Renan is standing next to my friend Tammie.
And finally, label you box and indicate if it’s for a girl or boy, include the age range, and PRAY over your box and ask that the child who receives it will receive the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, as his/her Savior and Redeemer.