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Spread The Gospel & Pack A Shoebox: Everything You Need To Know

Sheer joy overwhelms a girl in the African nation of Namibia as she opens her gift-filled shoebox.
September 27, 2022
BRIGHT-FM

Fall is in full swing, which means the Christmas season is right around the corner. It might feel a bit early to start thinking about Christmas shopping, but if you’re planning on packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, now is the time to start!

Each year, Operation Christmas Child shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ with children in need around the world by gifting them with shoeboxes filled with gifts and items that they might not otherwise have access to. Samaritan’s Purse describes these gifts as “tangible expressions of God’s immense love for children.” Along with the gifts, children and communities also receive “The Greatest Journey,” which teaches them about what Jesus has done for them and how to grow in their relationship with Him.

For over 29 years, Samaritan’s Purse has delivered almost 200 million shoebox gifts to over 170 countries. That means over 200 million children have gotten to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. God is SO good.

So, it might be too early to start decking the halls, but it’s the perfect time to get involved and pack your own shoebox for a child in need. Are you interested? If you are, you might have a few questions. To help with any questions you have, we provided some resources below to help get you started.

Where can I pick up an empty shoebox?

Every Tuesday in October, BRIGHT-FM will be at different locations around our state handing out empty shoeboxes to fill for a deserving child! You are invited to stop by to grab an empty shoebox, and as a “thank you,” Joyride Java will make you a free cup of coffee from one of their mobile coffee bars! For details about where we will be and when, check out our event page!

What should I pack in my shoebox?

When packing a shoebox, you have a few different options. You have the ability to choose whether you would like to pack a box for a girl or a boy, and what age range you’d like to buy for! Below are some ideas on what to get for each age range, along with downloadable lists from Samaritan’s Purse that you can take shopping with you.

Ages 2-4

Wow item:

  • Stuffed animal
  • Soccer ball (make sure to include a small, manual air pump)
  • Small musical instrument

Personal Care items:

  • Hairbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Washcloth
  • Blanket
  • Bandages

Craft/Activities Supplies:

  • Pencils (with small manual pencil sharpener)
  • Crayons & markers
  • Coloring books
  • Notebook
  • Stickers
  • Playdough

Toys:

  • Finger puppets
  • Foam ball
  • Etch a Sketch
  • Interactive toys that include push buttons, lights, noise (include extra batteries)

Clothing:

  • Underwear
  • Shirts and pants
  • Flip flops
  • Sunglasses
Ages 5-9

Wow item:

  • Doll/action figure
  • Stuffed animal
  • Backpack
  • Soccer ball (make sure to include a small, manual air pump)
  • Small musical instrument

Personal Care items:

  • Hairbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Non-liquid lip balm
  • Blanket
  • Reusable plastic containers: cup, water bottle, plate, bowl, blunt-edged utensils (Consider filling an empty container with non-liquid items such as hair bows, bracelets, sunglasses, or washcloths to maximize space)

School Supplies:

  • Pencils (with small manual pencil sharpener)
  • Crayons, markers, & pens
  • Erasers
  • Notebooks
  • Ruler & protractor
  • Pencil case
  • Gluestick

Toys:

  • Costume items to play dress-up with
  • Foam ball
  • Yo-yo
  • Plastic toy figures
  • Hacky sack
  • Toy cars

Clothing:

  • Underwear
  • Shirts and pants
  • Hat, scarves, mittens
  • Shoes & socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Tote bags/backpack
  • Woven friendship bracelets
Ages 10-14

Wow item:

  • An outfit to wear
  • Backpack or bag
  • Stuffed animal, dolls, action figures

Personal Care items:

  • Comb
  • Hairbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Non-liquid lip balm
  • Compact mirror
  • Nail clipper & file
  • Stick deodorant
  • Washable/reusable menstrual pads

School Supplies:

  • Pencils (with small manual pencil sharpener)
  • Crayons, markers, & pens
  • Erasers
  • Notebooks
  • Ruler & protractor
  • Pencil case
  • Solar-powered calculator
  • Safety (blunt-tip) scissors

Toys:

  • Jump rope
  • Binoculars
  • Chalkboard & chalk
  • Playing cards
  • Bracelet making kit
  • Puzzles

Clothing:

  • Shirts and pants
  • Loose-fitting sundresses
  • Underwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip-flops
  • Wrist-watch
  • Hair accessories

Where can I drop off my completed shoebox?

National drop-off week is November 14-21, and Samaritan’s Purse will be collecting all shoeboxes at that time. The full list of drop-off locations will be posted on their website the first week of October. If you have further questions about Operation Christmas Child, make sure to visit the Samaritan’s Purse website here.

Take a look below for a peek inside all the different steps that go into getting a child their gift box and the impact these presents have!

  • A family pauses at their dinner table to to include the most important part of the shoebox gift—prayer for the child who will receive it.
    A family pauses at their dinner table to to include the most important part of the shoebox gift—prayer for the child who will receive it.
  • Two sisters from Tennessee enjoy packing shoebox gifts together.
  • Pictured here is a volunteer smiling and holding up a shoebox before it is packed and sent off to its destination.
    Once every hour in the processing centers, volunteers pause from their work to pray over shoebox gifts. Pictured here is a volunteer smiling and holding up a shoebox before it is packed and sent off to its destination.
  • A man in Peru stands in a field and smiles for the camera as the donkey next to him is carrying Samaritan's Purse cardboard boxes on its back
    A man in Peru stands in a field and smiles for the camera as the donkey next to him is carrying Samaritan's Purse cardboard boxes on its back.
  • A man and two boys on a raft in Fiji as the raft carries Samaritan's Purse cardboard boxes across a body of water.
  • A small grey car delivering shoeboxes makes its way across a desert in Bolivia with animals in the background
    A grey SUV delivering shoeboxes makes its way across a desert in Bolivia with animals in the background.
  • A woman in Botswana sits on a cart stacked with Samaritan's Purse cardboard boxes full of gifts as it is pulled by donkeys
    A woman in Botswana sits on a cart stacked with Samaritan's Purse cardboard boxes full of gifts as it is pulled by donkeys.
  • Boys in Mexico standing next to one another before they open their shoeboxes
    Boys in Mexico standing next to one another before they open their shoeboxes.
  • Jamyleth (right) who received a shoebox gift as a child enjoys helping a new generation of children discover God’s love for them through simple shoebox gifts.
  • Boys in the Caucasus nation of Georgia rejoice to receive shoebox gifts and The Greatest Gift Gospel booklets.
    Boys in the Caucasus nation of Georgia rejoice to receive shoebox gifts and The Greatest Gift Gospel booklets.
  • A mother and father in Mexico stand outside with their three children as they smile and hold their shoeboxes
    A mother and father in Mexico smiling and standing beside their three children who are holding shoeboxes.
  • Boys in Colombia sitting on the ground, smiling and laughing as their hold their shoeboxes high above their heads
    Boys in Colombia sitting on the ground, smiling and laughing as they hold their shoeboxes high above their heads.
  • A little girl in Botswana going through her shoebox as she smiles widely
    A little girl in Botswana smiling widely as she goes through the gifts in her shoebox.
  • A girl in Saipan tenderly hugs the teddy bear she found in her shoebox gift.
    A girl in Saipan tenderly hugs the teddy bear she found in her shoebox gift.
  • Children in Mongolia gather with a trained, local volunteer teacher to learn Bible stories through The Greatest Journey.
  • Four girls in Liberia gather under a tree to read The Greatest Journey with 12 engaging lessons teaching them how to follow Christ and share Him with friends and family.
    Four girls in Liberia gather under a tree to read The Greatest Journey that includes 12 engaging lessons teaching them how to follow Christ and share Him with friends and family.
  • A child in Ecuador standing in a wooden doorway and smiling while holding their open shoebox.
    A child in Ecuador standing in a wooden doorway and smiling while holding their open shoebox.

All images courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse.

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