Your Old Shoebox’s Full Potential Revealed
Today is the day. There is no snow outside. No furry-coated jolly Saint Nick. Well, there is, but in this case, Santa Claus is comprised of thousands of people overseas that have never even met the child about to receive a shoebox. This box does not contain a regular pair of shoes, however, but so much more. These boxes are filled with toys, candy, much needed sanitary items, sometimes shoes, socks, books, letters and prayers of encouragement, all wrapped with love and a very special message: the act of giving this gift itself is a message to the child that someone, somewhere, is thinking of them, praying for them, and supporting them.
Operation Christmas Child began in 1993 but is tied to an organization, Samaratin’s Purse, that has been traveling the globe, spreading the Word of God and helping to heal those around them spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Their mission statements says, “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”
I began filling shoe boxes with my mom and sister about a decade ago. Our church was a collection center. I loved going to the dollar store with my mom and picking out all the toys, princess jewelry and glitter pens my child would receive in their box. I remember spending so much time on the letter that I included in the box, hoping the child would write back. I never did hear back, but sometimes if you include your address, you can receive letters back. This taught me from a young age the importance of giving to others in need, the real reason for the season, and it taught me that giving is actually more rewarding than receiving.
This year, as a college student, I was on my own to fill my shoebox. I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you how I like to fill my shoebox each year and offer some tips and advice. If you are looking for more frugal options so that you may get the most bang for your buck, I suggest going to the Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Walmart, etc. You may go anywhere to purchase your items, however. A lot of local businesses will also donate items in honor of this program. For example, some people have toothbrushes and toothpaste donated from their dentist’s office.
It is helpful to bring the box with you so that it can help you to gauge when you’ve reached maximum capacity of items that will fit in your box. Keep in mind that once you open some items and re-configure things, you can fit a lot more in than you would think. Also, make sure that you have already decided which gender and age group you would like to have this sent to. The label that comes with the box or that can be found at any collection or relay center (Student Affairs, Admissions) gives you the option to send to a boy or girl, in the age ranges of 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14 years. This year, in honor of my 7-year old niece, I built a box for a girl in the age range 5-9 years.
The pamphlet attached to the labels for your box includes a list of suggested gift items as well as items that should not be put in the box. Items to include are toiletry items (hair brushes, bows, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of soap), toys and fun items (coloring books, miniature cars, dolls, jump ropes, yo-yos), school supplies (notebooks, pens and pencils, erasers, stickers), candy (mints, gum, candy canes). You should NOT include any liquids, perishable items like food or chocolate, and no toys that resemble or promote weapons or violence (guns, knives, etc). If you go through my picture gallery, you can see the items I got for my little girl. When buying toys, consider the nature of the third-world countries these boxes are going to. Items that require batteries are okay to send, but send extra batteries for the child. I try to always include items that can be reused and played with for a long time. Yo-yo’s, jump ropes, and other items that are easy to play with outside and with friends are great ideas.
Catawba College had a campus-wide packing party Tuesday night, November 13th. They filled 360 boxes this year! It’s not too late for you, though. This week is National Collection Week, Nov. 12-19th. You can still drop off your filled box to a collection center near you, which you can find based on your location on their website, OR bring it to one of the convenient locations on our campus: Welcome Center of Admissions in Hedrick Administration Building or The Student Affairs Office in the Student Center. Samaratin’s Purse collects the boxes year-round, however. You can find how to send your box even if you miss the deadline for this year on their website under “FAQ’s.”
I invite you to visit the main page where you can learn more about this organization and opportunity. If you go online to this site you can send your $7 donation in online and track your box to the country it lands in. You can also build a box online if you do not have the time to go out and pick everything out yourself. There are so many different options and ways to be involved. Take the time to try it out. I guarantee you will not regret it and will be hooked for the rest of your life.