Start a Family Tradition with Operation Christmas Child

If you haven’t heard of Operation Christmas Child, it’s a charity project of Samaritan’s Purse and is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. For 25 years, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 157 million children in more than 160 countries and territories around the world!


I remember packing shoeboxes when I was young and single in my twenties. It felt so good to be doing something nice for a child in need during the Christmas season. Now, more than twenty years later, my daughters are packing shoeboxes! It has a become a special tradition that they do with their grandma every year. They typically pack 10-20 shoeboxes with her and are always so excited about it. They enjoy all the steps–from shopping to sorting to packing. Whether you pack 1 box, 10 boxes or more, this is a great activity to consider doing with your kids this November. And it’s a great way to get into the giving spirit as we head into December and the Christmas season approaches.

If you are new to Operation Christmas Child, here is some background information:

  • More than 100,000 volunteers in the United States, 500,000 worldwide and tens of thousands of participating churches allow Operation Christmas Child to reach millions of children each year.
  • For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received!
  • By working with churches around the world, Operation Christmas Child shares the Good News of God’s love and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. The shoebox gifts bless the children and provide opportunities to share the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Samaritan’s Purse works in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution.

girl with shoebox

How does it work?

Anyone, anywhere can participate! Just pack an empty shoebox with a “WOW” toy item—like a doll or ball (with a pump)—and other fun toys, school supplies and personal hygiene items. Then take it to a drop-off location during National Collection Week, Nov. 12 – 19. Find your drop-off location here.

The shoebox can be one that you have around the house or you could purchase a plastic shoebox tub with a lid. Many churches are passing out OCC boxes or you can buy the plastic OCC boxes at Hobby Lobby, but any type of shoebox will work! If you choose to wrap your shoebox, wrap the lid and bottom separately.

Decide whether you will pack your box for a boy or girl of the following age ranges: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 and start packing!

A few things to know: Older kids tend to get less shoeboxes, but they need them just as much, so you may want to consider packing one for a 10-14 year old. Plastic shoeboxes can be re-used by the kids in various ways and are basically like another gift item themselves. Some gift suggestions are: stuffed animals, backpacks, shoes or flip flops, a shirt or outfit, combs, washcloths, soap, school supplies, puzzles, games, jumprope or frisbee. Get additional age and gender specific gift suggestions here.

You can include just about anything in your shoebox, except for the following items: used or damaged items,  war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures, seeds, chocolate or food, candy, toothpaste, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers, aerosol cans.

If you want to include a letter to the child about yourself/your family, click here for a printable that you could use.

You can also include an optional $9 donation for shipping and follow your box online to discover its final destination! This is optional, but it’s a great additional way to support the Operation Christmas Child cause. Find more information here on how to donate and follow your box.

Shoebox drop-off locations for the Green Bay area are: LIFE Church at 1551 Lawrence Drive in De Pere or Celebration Church at 3475 Humboldt Rd in Green Bay. They have various drop-off times, which you can find here, but the last day for drop-off will be Monday, 11/19 from 10AM to noon at LIFE church or 9-11AM at Celebration Church.

Get all the details about how to pack a box and more by visiting

You can also check out my daughters’ You Tube video on how to pack a shoebox here.

Start a new family tradition this year by packing a shoebox for those in need!!

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