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You are here: Home arrow How To arrow Decorate and Fill a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child

Decorate and Fill a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child


An Introduction to Operation Christmas Childimage of shoebox gift to boy from Swaziland

Operation Christmas Child has been operating now for twenty years since David Cooke, from Wrexham, North Wales, was so disturbed by a television report on the plight of children in Romanian orphanages that he chose to enlist the support of friends to help fill a truck with toys and drive it to Romania. The following year the American actor Mr T, from The A Team, was present for the send off of the lorries – cool, if you are an 11 year old boy!
Since launching in 1990, over 81 million shoeboxes of toys and other gifts have been given out to children in many countries around the world, including: Albania, Belarus, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Romania, Bosnia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Liberia, Mozambique and Honduras.

image of boy from Belarus receiving christmas shoeboxOperation Christmas Child is a christian organisation but the shoeboxes are distributed impartially to children of all faiths or no faith, with no religious requirements being imposed on the recipients. The charity operates with the intention of giving care and compassion to children who have little to call their own, in some situations it also gives out Bibles or small books of Bible stories. It operates under the banner of Samaritan's Purse which also provides international relief.
Sending a shoebox of gifts to children who have very little is a great activity for schools, churches, community and youth groups to get involved in. It helps to encourage a delight in giving at the same time as directly impacting the lives of disadvantaged children overseas. Volunteers who have returned from the recipient countries report their own excitdelight on seeing how thrilled the children are to receive the boxes as well as how tough some of their lives are: refugees, street children and children in poorer communities, despised by others.

How to Prepare Your Shoeboxesoperation-christmas-shoebox.jpg

1. Find a medium sized shoe box and cover the body and lid with Christmas wrapping paper. (If the lid and base are joined it is easier to cover them individually). 

2. Your children may enjoy to personalise the shoebox by decorating it with images cut from Christmas cards, to give a decoupage effect, and finish it off with glitter. You could even enclose a photo of the child/children who have prepared the box.

3. You need to decide whether the box is for a boy or a girl and download a sticker from the Operation Christmas Child website to stick on the top right of the lid. You will also need to include a donation form and a £2.50 contribution towards the carriage costs. (These costs are kept to a minimum as many of the volunteers who distribute the boxes do so at their own expense.)
Alternatively, the charity prefers you to donate online if at all possible.sunday-school-shoeboxes-.jpg

4. Fill your box with toys:  bear, soft toy, tennis ball, finger puppet, jigsaw, yo-yo, building blocks, small musical instrument, trucks and cars, dolls, etc;
educational supplies: felt pens, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser, colouring book, notepad, picture or puzzle book, chalk, pencil case, stickers, etc;
toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, comb, hair clips, bar of soap, flannel, etc;
other items: sweets (sell-by date to be at least March of the following year), gloves, scarf, sunglasses, cap, hat, bangles, necklaces etc.
You may wish to hand knit scarves, gloves, hats or puppets and there are suggested patterns available on the Operation Christmas Child website.

IMPORTANT: Items to avoid are: food and chocolate, medicines, vitamins, war toys (toy guns, soldiers, tanks), knives, scissors, razors, liquids (including blow bubbles, shampoo, bubble bath), written material, glass, mirrors and aerosols. Also any hand-knitted stuffed toys without a CE mark. And beware of any choking hazards or items that could be mistaken for a sweet.

5. Finally secure the lid with a rubber band and drop off your shoebox at your nearest drop off point between November 1st - 18th. You can use the Operation Christmas Child online locator to find your nearest drop off point.

© hopefish 2010.  
This article was not produced in conjunction with Operation Christmas Child, with which we have no affiliation.

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