You'll know by now that I love the Operation Christmas Child initiative from the Christian charity Samaritans Purse. Making up our boxes signifies the start of our Christmas season and it is a highlight of the year to be able to make simple Christmas shoebox gifts for children less fortunate than my own. Each year my children learn a valuable lesson as we talk and make these boxes together. People often muse where the true meaning of Christmas has gone and here it is! Giving a simple gift to the needy without any expectation of receiving anything back, just as Jesus would.
If you are feeling selfless and would like to get involved there are lots of ways and they do not all have to cost money or take up lots of time. I'll talk you through all the ways to help, choose one or choose all of them if you so desire!
1. Make up a shoebox gift yourself and deliver it to one of the hundreds of collection points around the UK
I have posted a making a shoebox tutorial post, so I'll direct you back there if you want to know what to do or check out the OCC webpages, they really are a fantastic resource. Personally, I can make a really good box up for about £10, in honesty, it might cost you more than that as I shop around for most of the year and collect bargains. But I think if you buy your kids one less present and spend £20 on this then that is money well spent on helping your children realise the world is bigger than them and we are the lucky ones.
2. No time? Then get OCC to make a shoebox for you and you just order it online with Shoebox World
I personally have not used this service as we like to make our boxes but I love this idea and have some friends using it. We have to be realistic and time only goes so far, so if you would like to help but time is your enemy then this is for you. Pre-packed boxes start from £13.89 including shipping or you can choose a more expensive box, or you can even build your own box online, right down to choosing the wrapping paper and you can get the kids to do it as it is easy, fun and visual.
3. Are you a blogger & you fancy spreading the word?
Yes? Then post away, feel free to nick any of my material, I have lots of OCC posts on here. Failing that share any posts/ tweets etc that you see and just help the word to spread, please.
4. Sign up for Give as you Live and nominate Samaritans Purse as your chosen Charity
This is great if you are an online shopper as you do your shopping as normal in all the branded shops that you love like John Lewis and Amazon and money is given to Samaritans Purse but it costs you nothing - perfect win:win situation!
5. Are you a crafter and could make items for shoeboxes?
I realise it might be a bit late in the year for you to start crafting dozens of wonderful creations now for this year's shoeboxes but it is never too early to start for the 2013 collection. Take a look at this page on Pinterest and be inspired. I love it, there are tutorials on there to make DVD colouring boxes, memory games, skipping ropes and dress-up dolls. I have to confess I have not yet put anything handmade into our shoeboxes, this is one for me to start.
6. Have you got some time on your hands in November?
Then why don't you volunteer to help in one of the warehouses, checking boxes and helping to get organised for this massive job of moving over a million shoebox gifts? Just email the regional manager or head office and they will give you the contact details of the nearest co-ordinator. I'm going to help out next Friday at our local one.
Loads of ideas! Do you fancy joining in and doing just one of them?
Remember never underestimate your impact. By just RTing one of my posts that tweet might reach someone who has lots of time of their hands or who can afford or donate dozens of shoeboxes, you just never know what might happen, so be bold and join in!
Oh and if you have heard any negative stories/ press about OCC then have a read of their latest response, it will put your mind at rest.
Have a blessed festive season, thanks for joining in. Mich x
Why not pin this post for later?
Disclosure: I'll be travelling with OCC in December to Belarus to collect stories from the children who receive shoeboxes. I have been making shoeboxes and organising the local school collection for years, I have a genuine love of this charity and I am not posting for any other reason.