Raising kids in a self-absorbed culture is hard work. I’m an imperfect mom who sometimes has great ideas and sometimes struggles with my own selfishness. One of the best ways to keep us all focused on what matters – loving God and love people – is serving others.
Thankfully, there are ways to do that and existing ministries to partner with. We don’t have to reinvent anything here. We just have to be willing to come alongside those things we are called to be part of. Of course, what I believe I’m called to be part of may not be the same thing you’re called to do – and that’s okay.
But I wanted to use my blog space today to share one way you can serve, if you’re looking for an opportunity to give to others.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, demonstrates God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, shares the Good News of Jesus Christ. The ministry collects and sends simple shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items to children affected by war, poverty, disaster, famine, and disease. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories.
My two big kids are 11 and almost 9. They’ve been packing shoeboxes each fall for long enough that they know when we buy extra toothbrushes and school supplies what’s happening. I like creating that kind of tradition with our family and community. And this is the first year my youngest (who recently turned 3) can participate on some level.
Serving others helps us focus beyond ourselves.
Operation Christmas Child is one way to do that.
Our church has long been a supporter of Samaritan’s Purse – both through packing and sending shoeboxes as well as other relief efforts. We’ve been collecting items for shoeboxes for several months, well in advance of the November packing party we’ve traditionally had.
During the packing party, we divided up all the donations into different stations (toiletries, school supplies, household items, clothes, toys, etc.) and then the kids and adults can choose which gender and age they’re packing for and load their box with items. We really like the cardboard boxes available from Samaritan’s Purse. Last year, our church crew packed 154 boxes!
National Collection Week is Nov. 12-19. You can find a list of where shoeboxes are collected in your town right here. If you’ve never packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child before, here are some helpful links to get you started …
How to pack a shoebox
Coloring/info sheets to include
Shoebox follow-up ministry
This is actually a slightly edited version of a post from a couple years ago with updated information in case you want to participate! Have you packed shoeboxes before? How do you incorporate giving into your family life?
If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate service into your ordinary family life, I have a guide just for you. My email subscribers have already received it, but I’m happy to resend it to any email friends that didn’t download it. If we aren’t email friends, just sign up here and you’ll get the free guide to How to Serve Your Community with Your Family.
Joanne Viola says
This was a project I so enjoyed doing with my children as they grew up. It was always interesting to me to take them shopping and see the items they would select. This is a wonderful way to teach children to be “other-minded”, generous, and kind. The links you shared are wonderful – especially the coloring pages 🙂
I’m glad you have good memories from this project. Thanks for being here. xo
Rebecca Hastings says
We loved packing these precious shoeboxes for kids around the world! Such a beautiful gift!
Truly beautiful. Thanks for being here.
Barbara Harper says
This is the very first time we have been part of a church that does the shoe boxes, and I am so excited!
Yay! I hope you love it.
Michele Morin says
Operation Christmas Child is such a heartwarming project. Thanks for explaining and inviting!
You’re welcome! Thanks for being here!
Lauren Sparks says
I love this ministry. So glad you highlighted it. laurensparks.net
Oh good. Thanks for being here, Lauren!
Rebecca Jones says
I will pass this on to a Christmas board and hope there are others who want to help, thanks, Kristin.
Thanks for sharing, Becky!
I always enjoyed doing this project too. But I read an article recently that gives Operation Christmas Child a bad name. Wondering if you’ve heard anything.
Oh I haven’t! I’ve known people who work directly with Operation Christmas Child, so I hadn’t ever worried about it not being legit. I’ll have to do some more research, though. Thanks for being here, Tara!