There’s a great way to help children understand the importance of sharing what we have with those less fortunate, especially at Christmas time. For years, our family has packed shoeboxes with gifts for Operation Christmas Child to distribute to needy children throughout the world. It’s a fun, simple, and tangible way for children to share with other children.
To start, all you need is a shoebox. I like to use plastic shoeboxes because they are more durable for the recipients. Then your child can choose the age range: either boy or girl 2-4 years, 5-9 years, or 12-14 years.
My kids like to pack a box for a children their ages. So this year, we did one girl 2-4 box, one girl 5-9 box, one girl 10-14 box, and one boy 2-4 box (since they don’t do boxes for babies).
Then, the fun part: filling the box! We like to take the kids to the dollar store so they can pick out fun and practical things. Every year, they choose some different items, but we usually include the following general things:
- hairbrush/hair accessories
- coloring book
- stuffed animal
- doll for girls
I try to buy some of the things throughout the year at clearance times so it’s not one big expense all at once, but they really like going to choose the toys and treats for the shoeboxes. I found a great site with lots of suggestions for packing a shoebox on a budget, if you need more ideas.
Then we come home and stuff all the goodies into the boxes, tape the label on top, and we’re done! Our church collects the shoeboxes, but there are drop-off locations all over the place if your church doesn’t participate.
There is a $7 donation per box that helps with distribution costs. If you pay this fee online, you will be able to print a special label for your box with a barcode. In a few months, you will receive an email that tells you about the country where your box ended up. We love getting these emails and are always fascinated that the boxes always get separated from each other!
How do you help your children learn to care about those less fortunate? Do you participate in Operation Christmas Child?