Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse.
This year, OCC expects to reach a milestone - with more than 100 million children set to receive shoe box gifts since the ministry began in 1993.
Can you imagine? At least 100 million children experiencing hope and the love of Jesus, thanks to boxes filled with toys, games, hygiene items, candy and more.
It's an amazing thing to think about.
But it's not going to stop here! OCC has set a goal of going above and beyond 100 million. With more than two billion children in the world - with at least half living in poverty - OCC hopes to collect more shoe box gifts for children this year.
I filled my first shoebox in 1998, as a newbie children's pastor in Kansas. The families in my new church had set a goal to fill a plethora (I can't remember how many) of boxes during the National Collection Week.I still remember going shopping for the items in that first box.
Since then, I've had the privilege of being involved with Operation Christmas Child in a variety of ways. Most recently, I participated in a community party in Siloam Springs organized by some amazing volunteers.
During that party, kids (of all ages) came to the church prior to National Collection week for a fun morning of carnival games. All of the prizes won were used to stuff 100s of boxes. In the last year I was there, we collected at least 250 boxes!
This year, I was encouraged to participate in a "virtual" packing party.
So armed with my list, my friend Laura and I sent shopping today - to buy treats for a 2 to 4 year old girl.
My personal favorites - the "duck whistle" (every kid loves a noise maker) and the doll baby (worth going to three stores for it!)
I finished off the box with candy - since it had to be double bagged in a ziplock bag, I was only able to include the dum dum suckers and ring pops - the fruit snacks didn't fit in the box.
I can't wait to see where this box ends up. Thanks to the EZ Tracking option, I should be able to "track" the box as it wings its way to another country. Two years ago a friend did this, and her boxes ended up in Ghana. (You can pay for the shipping online, and OCC generates a label with a track able bar code.)
So what are you waiting for?
You can still take part in this year's efforts.It's never too late to fill a box!
Your participation can grow beyond building a box. You can also join in the call to prayer -
Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for a specific time - especially during the National Collection Week - to help cover the boxes, children receiving them and the volunteers working during the week with prayer. You can read more about it here!
OCC is an amazing organization - one I gladly support. You can read more about it here.
But don't take my word for it. Check out 2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery's experience - traveling to to the Dominican Republic with Operation Christmas Child to deliver shoe box gifts packed by his hometown church.
Ready to pack a box with your kiddos?
Here's some quick instructions.
(You can see the full list here)
HOW TO PACK A BOX
1. Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.
2. Boy or Girl?
Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. You can download a label online or click the Follow Your Box option to get a special label to learn the destination of you shoe box gift.
3. Fill it up!
Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child such as toys, school supplies, and hygiene items. A list of suggested gift items is available here.
4. Donate $7
Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can give online by using our Follow Your Box option, or you can write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, please make one combined donation.
5. Drop Off
Click here to find the closest drop-off location during you and drop off your box during OCC’s National Collection Week, Nov. 12-19, 2012.
You can also send shoe box gifts year-round to:
Operation Christmas Child
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607
Follow OCC on Social Media
This holiday season build a box with your family to teach kindness, compassion, and generosity.
Operation Christmas Child and influencer marketing platform BlogFrog have teamed up with 200 bloggers like me to spread the word about this great cause.
BlogFrog will match the first 200 boxes that are built. Pledge your commitment below to build a box today on Facebook or Twitter!
Pledge your commitment below to build a box today on Facebook or Twitter!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Operation Christmas Child. The opinions and text are all mine.