Friday 25 September 2020

Operation Christmas Child - Box Packing Update for 2020

Operation Christmas Child shoebox header

I've now been involved with Operation Christmas Child for around 16 years and I still love it as much as I ever did. JJ has moved on and no longer helps me pack boxes but my twin girls are still keen and we often invite friends around for a box packing party, so a few of us can all do it together. 

Over the years I have been involved in various ways, from packing boxes as a family to organising assemblies at school, services at church, box packing parties (online and in real life), school and church collections, checking boxes before sending and even travelling to Belarus with Samaritans Purse to distribute boxes, be involved in live-streamed box opening and writing up the stories of the children I met. 

Things have been changing over the years and regulations have tightened up, meaning that not everything can be included in your box anymore. Also, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, you might be wondering if you can still create a physical box and the answer is yes. Samaritans Purse are still accepting boxes during the week of 9-16 November 2020. 

I thought it was important to update our box packaging tutorial here on the blog with all the latest 2020 information -

How to pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Gift

1)  Get a box - Either take a medium-sized shoebox and wrap the lid and box separately in festive and fun wrapping paper. Or you can use a pre-printed shoebox. available from Samaritans Purse. You can't buy these in packs of any less than 20, so they are good for schools, churches and community groups to buy and give out os sell individually. 

2)   Choose the sex and age - Choose which age group and sex you will make the box for. The choice is boy or girl for ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. You can download and print labels from here for free. Make sure you attach the appropriate one to the top of your box.  

3)  Pack your box - with a selection of items that you believe the recipient child will enjoy.  Here are the contents of the box we sent last year for a 10-14-year-old girl.
  • Make-up/ toiletry bag
  • Socks
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairbands and Alice bands
  • Toothbrush (you cannot send toothpaste nowadays)
  • Bracelet
  • Sponge and soap
  • Tissues
  • Notebooks
  • Selection of pens, pencils etc and a pencil case
  • Stickers
  • Knitted hat

Bear in mind that many children in developing countries are less grown-up that our own children, so a 14-year-old in the UK may not want stickers or Alice bands, but children abroad like traditional items and toys. There is always the chance they can swap items too, or give them to younger siblings.
Shoebox for 10-14 year old girl

We also packed a box for a 5-9-year-old girl, and that box contained the following -

Shoe box for 5-9 year old girl

  • Knitted hat and gloves
  • Socks
  • Cuddly toy
  • Small purse
  • Sunglasses
  • Necklaces
  • Notebooks, colouring pad and stickers
  • Pencil case with pens, pencils etc
  • Tennis ball
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair clips and ribbons
  • Soap and sponge
  • Toy wobbly eyes to go on your finger

5=9 year old girl shoebox contents

DO - Always make sure to include at least a couple of items that you know a child will love, like a cuddly toy, doll, ball or skipping rope. Make the box full of a good mix of toys, stationery and hygiene items. They will all be enjoyed and even the box will be too!

Consider adding a small tambourine, harmonica, shaker, yo-yo, toy cars, a small craft set (including a glue stick), a small puzzle, a game like tic tac toe or snap, solar calculator, wind-up torch, slinky spring, a small sewing kit, Lego, baseball cap. Look on Pinterest for ideas of small toys and items you can crochet, knit, craft or make to go in shoeboxes. there are some truly amazing ideas on there. The OCC knitting pattern page is very good too. 

DON'T - include any of the following - toothpaste, sweets, chocolate or other food, war-related toys (like toy guns or soldiers), soap that looks like food, used or damaged items, books with lots of words, liquids, bubble mixture, medicines, anything sharp or political/ religious items.  There is a really a good FAQ of items that can and can't be added into a shoebox. 

4)   Personalise your gift - You can add a Christmas card and/or a photo of who made the box. We always add these, with a little positive message to let the child know they are being thought of and prayed for throughout the year, It's not recommended to put your address in the shoebox.

5)   Make your £5 donation per box - (to cover the cost of transporting it to the child in need) online over here and print off a barcode to go in your box. You'll then be able to follow your box and will be informed which country your box was sent to in due course. If you don't wish to donate online, you can make a cheque payable to Samaritans Purse or place £5 in an envelope and put it on the contents of the box.

Gift wrap covered shoebox

6)   Drop-off - Place an elastic band around your box to keep the contents secure and take it to a drop-off point. It might be that your local school or church have arranged a collection as they are expecting a lot of boxes. or you may need to pop to the shops and drop it off. Check online, where your local drop-off point is. The list i live now and I notice lots of churches are acting as drop off points as well as The Entertainer Toy Store and Caffe Nero. The national collection week is 9-16 November this year. 

That's all you need to do. Simple, right? The one thing I should say that I haven't yet, is to make sure you shop all year round. Keep your eyes open during the sales and buy items then. January, June and after back-to-school are my favourite buying times as you can get great bargains to go in your boxes. Also, save things all year round that you get given but won't use, like sealed McDonald's Happy Meal type toys or party bag items.

I hope you really enjoy putting your boxes together, It should be fun and a little humbling too, as you think of the joy you'll bring to a child who probably doesn't have a lot else in life.

Check out some other Operation Christmas Child posts from my archives -

8 Reasons not to take part in a Christmas shoebox appeal

Operation Christmas Child Exposed

Packing a shoebox for under £10

Insider shoebox packing tips

Creating wow in your OCC shoebox

Why not pin this post for later?

OCC box packing 2020 pin

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