The power of a simple gift: a shoebox filled with small gifts sent with love to give joy & hope to children who would not otherwise receive a gift at Christmas.

It sometimes seems the needs in our world are never-ending. We are constantly bombarded in the news programs, newspapers and magazines with people suffering in one disaster after another, and my heart breaks for everyone of them. Much as I would love to be able to, as one individual I cannot help everyone – my resources are limited. I will do what I can, one at a time, and encourage you to do what you can, when and wherever you can so it.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to never have received a Christmas present,” Jessica said. “My mother had very little money when we were children, but there was always a big bundle of gifts waiting on Christmas morning for my brother and me. As I discovered when I was older she and my grandmother would spend the whole of the next year paying for them. They wanted to give and this was the only way they could afford to do it.”

Now you may say we go over the top today and spend too much on Christmas gifts – that’s another story altogether. But what mother does not want to give good gifts to her child, and aches when she cannot. Even when we in the west have ‘nothing’, we have so much more than many.

OCC logo 150

Sending love in a box is what Operation Christmas Child is all about:

  • delivering shoeboxes filled with small gifts
  • donated with love and generosity
  • by caring folks who want to give hope to a child


But how can I help when I’ve no spare money?

If you can’t afford to fill a whole shoebox this year, why not get together with neighbors, family or friends and share the cost.

  • Use what you have to make a gift. A couple of years ago Sapphire had no money for extras but she wanted to give. She decided she didn’t need all the scrapbooking supplies she had in her craft boxes. There were quite a few small, unopened packets of things in her stash, so she got out her scrapbooking papers and cardstock and created a card making kit for a young girl to use to say thankyou to her teacher and friends, or to write to family members who live away. With just a little effort and no extra outlay she was able to contribute to a box her friend was filling.

knitted puppet

  • Knitted Clown Hand Puppets Do you have odd bits of wool in the house from that knitting phase you had? The UK website has a pattern for a knitted clown puppet that is proving very popular with the youngsters. (Note knitting needle sizes vary from one country to another. Check the internet for conversions.)


“The clowns were so popular last winter that we hope to have many more knitted puppets in shoe boxes this year. Playing with a glove puppet has been found to be very therapeutic for a child suffering from trauma or isolation ? the puppet becomes a little friend to talk to.”

 If you have other ideas for low cost gifts that will appeal to children add the instructions or links in the comments below.

Concern for others

Many of us will want to help family and friends caught by the wildfires in Southern California who have lost everything. Scrapbookers in other countries have their areas of need, too, which is why I’m suggesting getting together with another family or two to fill a shoebox this year, so we don’t let a child in need go without a gift this Christmas because things are tight at home.

Serbia David sml graphic reSamaritan’s Purse who organize Operation Christmas Child help wherever help is needed, nationally and internationally. They are, as I write, helping the wildfire victims, and their Disaster Relief Units ‘have worked in 21 states over the past eight years, providing assistance to more than 14,000 families.‘ They responded when Hurricane Felix struck Nicaragua, and with flood relief for North Koreans – ‘dispensing humanitarian aid to all regardless of race, political background or religion .’

Sergei is 15 and from Moldova (between Romania and Ukraine – I had to look it up.) Home life was hard so he ran away to Odessa, a city on the Black Sea. Like any teenager, I’m sure he thought nothing could be worse than home.

Unwanted, ignored and often despised by most local people, his home is now a sewer with five other boys, they scavenge from behind the nearby supermarket for left over food, and they rarely come from under the manhole cover that is their protection from the world … Except when the team from our partners Mission Possible come. That’s once a day, every day. They bring nutritious soup, biscuits, bananas and something to drink … Now Mission Possible have built a new residential centre, to get kids like Sergei into a safer environment, and help them re-integrate into society, and where possible re-unite them with their family.” OCC Ireland .

What does it mean to receive an Operation Christmas Child shoebox?OCC art 15

The Christmas gifts sent in those shoeboxes bless the children who receive them as well as parents, teachers and carers – the adults looking after the children. (Check the international websites to see the range of places OCC work with.)

  • One letter of thanks received from Russia, from the parents of Nina express thankfulness for someone they do not know who answered their daughter’s prayer for a teddy bear. Whether you believe in prayer or not you can still be the answer to a child’s prayer by showing your love and compassion.

On one visit, a little girl was presented with her shoebox. She opened it, looked at everything in awe and then packed it all away again and returned the box. She could not comprehend that the presents were hers to keep.”

  • Helen, who delivered a box to a teenage girl at a home for the blind said, “What touched me most was her joy at receiving a 2 page letter from the sender of her box. It was in English, a language she didn’t understand, in writing too small for her to see with her poor vision, but it was the first time anyone had sent her a letter and she said that now she knew someone loved her, because they had taken the time to write her a letter! Needless to say, I will ensure all my boxes have letters in in the future, with a photo, rather than just a Christmas card!

Shoebox2 150The children in the last orphanage we visited were happy and performed singing and dance routines beautifully. It showed what a great work the International womens club and our partners abroad ie Nicolai are doing. The shoe boxes brought great joy and excitement to all the children we visited.” From Rachel.

  • In Mozambique “Grandfather Paulo explained that the shoeboxes had brought them [his two grandsons] the first ? and only ? toys that they had ever had in their entire lives. ‘I can hardly tell you what this will mean to my boys,’ he said. ‘Let those people [who sent the boxes] know how grateful I am to them for caring enough to do this. I am amazed that such kind people exist.'”

Jane sums it up, “I am left with no doubt in my mind that ? Each little shoe box is SO precious to that one special child who receives it. You can make a difference!”

Read more stories at any of the International websites.

When can I help?

The 2010 collection period for the gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child is November 15-22. To find out how to help and to check the specific collection period in your country see the International Offices page for websites and contacts.

For ideas to include in your shoebox see How to Pack a Shoebox.

Thank you for answering a child’s prayer and easing the ache in one mother’s heart by joining in the campaign. We can break through the prejudice, politics, and religious disagreements to show love.

What does one lose by giving a little hope, serving others … or showing the power of a simple gift by giving love in a box – a shoebox?



[tags]Relief Organizations, Operation Christmas Child, scrapbooking, knitting, shoebox appeal, gifts, children’s toys[/tags]