That's right. It's the most wonderful time of the year, as evident by my growing stack of presents atop the devil--I mean, the printer. Charlotte Rae has really gotten into the spirit this year, but what is most exciting about this weekend is tomorrow we turn in our shoeboxes!
I did a few of these when I was growing up. Samaritan's Purse is the organization that these lovelies will go to. You pack a shoebox full of toys, soap, combs, school supplies, and pretty much anything you can fit that can be shipped for less fortunate children, and with them, they also receive the story of Jesus.
We knew last year that we wanted to make shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child. I found this helpful little link from Pinterest that gave some really good suggestions on stuff to include, 101, in fact. We also let the family know and got some contributions from the Donna. She had all kinds of toys and candy and even the actual shoeboxes. (which I have none of.)
Since we were scouting out treasures all year, it didn't take long to realize how much stuff filters into our household for free, that we promptly saved away for our shoeboxes. Every time we went to the dentist, we got toothbrushes and paste. When Charlotte gave out Valentine's cards, they had pencils attached, and because we had to buy two packs just for a few extra cards, we had all these pencils, that went into our stash. We shopped throughout the year, too. We shopped the Target dollar section hard as well as the party section where you can get small toys in a 10 pack for birthday parties, but we really only needed to buy a few things. I wanted to make sure and include toiletries and school supplies too.
So, here are a few tips I picked up along the way. When you send a shoebox, you have to select boy or girl and an age group. Unfortunately, a lot of people are really excited to do boxes for younger kids, and some years they do not have enough for older kids, so the older kids end up getting something intended for a much younger child. The age goes all the way up to 14, so we made sure and do some for older kids.
I printed out the coloring page, so that Charlotte could tell the kids something about our family too and connect. For some reason, every time I went to the Samaritan's Purse website, I had a hard time finding it, so here it is: Coloring Page. It has information your child can fill out about where they live with a map, and a place for them to draw a picture of themselves too. We also tried to include an actual picture of our family in each one.
In all of my research, I liked the Operation Christmas Child facebook page where I got even more ideas.
Talk about the eleventh hour! Just tonight I wrangled the baby over to the shoe boxes to trace her hand on the inside lid. Then, on the inside of her hand print there, I wrote, "Put your hand on mine and we can pray together." That is an important part of the shoeboxes to actually pray for the child who will receive your shoebox.
And now Samaritan's Purse actually gives you the option to track your shoebox! Each one costs an additional $7 to ship which you can include with your shoebox, or you can go to their website here and make your contribution, then, print out your own shipping labels with a barcode that allows you to track your shoe box! How cool is that!
One last tip, rubberbands! I went to the DG and just picked up a bag for a dollar. Our little boxes were bulging. You are supposed to wrap the bottom separate from the top because they are inspected before they are sent overseas to make sure there is nothing that will leak, and if there's extra room they might add a few more things in. Anyhoo, rubberbands helped tremendously. I put one on each end. They actually recommend it in their instructional video, but for some reason I just have a hard time maneuvering that site! ugh--but that's why I included so many links for you guys.
I also found out this year that they have a catalog that you can go to and make a contribution towards a number of things. I may be the last to know, but I thought it was really cool. You can choose for a lump sum of money to give something like clean water:
This is near and dear to our hearts because we found out this year that our well water was not safe to drink. However, all we had to do was go to the Just Save and fill up our empty jugs. These people don't have that option. You could also contribute money to buying farm animals or medical supplies. If you visit their page, you can order directly from the Internet, or if you prefer a good old fashioned catalog, like muah, you may call 1-800-353-5957. Quite frankly, staring at a catalog on the computer makes my eyeballs dry out. (unless we're talkin bout Amazon here)
I have to say I am really impressed by Samaritan's Purse, and just look who else is getting in on the action: