Oof. The year I totally forgot about Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child shoebox

Oof. Operation Christmas Child boxes are due this week. THIS. WEEK. (What is Operation Christmas Child? Not only does it help children, but it’s a great giving activity with kids. The boys and I put together shoeboxes last year – see it here!) See, I have this blog about giving. And I’ve been consumed with my little startup. And what happens? I let everything slide. Like what?

Giving. This blog. Making giving a priority.

See, I get it. We get busy. Consumed with other things.

But it’s okay. The sweet, wonderful people at Samaritan’s Purse understand. They must really love me. Because let’s be honest, my heart sank when the boys realized it was Operation Christmas Child week. They said “Ooohhh! I can’t wait to do that again this year!” And I realized, but you’re in school all day, and I missed out on shopping with you this weekend, and this week is already looking crazy….

Guys. Samaritan’s Purse made an ‘Build a Shoebox Online‘! They made an interactive process where you can go through, pick out what you want to include in your shoebox, pay a fee and you’re done. They do the rest.

And yes, creating a shoebox online takes away from all those moments when you can walk through the store with your kids, pick out items, pack them up and pray for the child that will receive them.

But I’d so much rather a child receive something than nothing. To know they are loved and cared for. Despite my inability to prioritize our time right now.

For those you who are able to pack a shoebox for a child in need, they must be delivered this week: November 18-25. Find a dropoff location here. Wondering how to pack a shoebox?

Operation Christmas Child Processing

Who knows, maybe I’ll get my act in gear this week. But I’m thankful that even if I don’t, I can build a shoebox online. I encourage you to do the same.

Christmas already? Operation Christmas Child boxes

Yes, the calendar just flipped to October. We haven’t even pulled out the candy corn and costumes yet, but I’m already thinking about Christmas (and only because I just realized the Operation Christmas Child boxes are due the week of November 12-19th). If I don’t start planning now, I’ll never get around to preparing these boxes (like last year, and the years before). Christmas sneaks up on me. But not this year!

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child

What are Operation Christmas Child boxes? Wrapped shoe boxes you and I fill with toys, toiletries and school supplies for children in need around the world. All you need to do is pick if you are giving to a boy or girl, and what age range. You then wrap a shoebox (top and bottom separately, you know, like they do on tv shows) and fill it with goodies. And best of all, you can involve your kids in the shopping and filling process!

Start here: How to Pack a Shoebox

Need some gift ideas?

Make sure to print out the label from How to Pack a Shoebox and attach it to the top of the box, so it can be properly distributed to a boy or girl and correct age. They get a lot of boxes. Please help make sure it goes to the right recipient.

Print the shipping label online and you can follow your box to its recipient. How fun would that be to track your package with your kids!

Prefer to drop it off? Search for a location here.

Your shoebox will be delivered. And a life will be changed. Meet Ralph, pictured below. His full story can be found here.

Nine-year-old Ralph slowly listed what he wanted, too.

“School supplies, school bag, a T-shirt, shoes and socks.”

All of these are simple things that most American children take for granted. But in impoverished areas like this one, school supplies and basic clothing make a huge difference.

“Education is the only way out,” said Marlin, pastor of the church that arranged the shoe box distribution at the school. “OCC will make a difference for them.”

With new school supplies, the children will have more opportunities in class. But the shoe boxes don’t just offer physical items to make life better for children. The gifts also present an opportunity to learn about the Gospel.

(All images from Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child)

For a little time and money, and a lot of compassion, you can reach children like Ralph. And let them know that they are loved.

Fill a shoebox today.

(Don’t forget they are due the week of November 12-19th!)

Christmas Giving with Kids

I’ve been on a quest to try to figure out ways to give & serve with the boys. The problem is that they are 5. And have the attention span and body control of puppies.

Every November I come up with a list of giving activities. I plan on doing  Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this post and this post about RACK. So inspiring!) And by this time every December, I feel like a complete failure for getting consumed with shopping, holiday parties, decorations, and of course sickness.

So far, we’ve enjoyed loving our neighbors by filling the Operation Christmas Child boxes., donating winter coats to One Warm Coat, and buying toys and food for Full Gospel Tabernacle in Far Rockaway, NY. But my favorite Christmas giving tradition that we’ve started is to walk around town center, delivering poinsettia plants. (And by “tradition” I mean that we’ve now done this two years in a row…) It all began with a poinsettia fundraiser for their preschool. But since we don’t need a bunch of plants, we decided to spread the love around town.

christmas giving

The boys decided to give their plants to the Post Office, the Police Station, the Fire Station (though it should have occurred to me that no one would be there since it is a volunteer department, so we left it by the door. They probably thought there was a bomb inside.), the town Cafe (the only restaurant in town), the Library and the Dry Cleaner (of course, so they could get lollipops).

It is such a small way to put a smile on someone’s face, and brings us even greater joy to deliver these. It was wonderful see the boys confidently and happily hand over the plants, saying “Merry Christmas, this is a gift for you!”

Maybe some year, we will be able to do daily Christmas giving. Or maybe I’ll take the pressure off of myself  to just enjoy the season,  give however we can and continue our giving activities throughout the year, instead of jamming them all into Advent.

How do you give with your kids during the Christmas season? I’m always looking for ideas and inspiration!