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Imagine yourself as a kid on Christmas morning. When you were 7 or 8 years old, lying in bed, wide-awake at 5 in the morning, even though you had stayed up most of the night, listening ever-so intently for the faintest sound of a bell jingling or of shoes shuffling near the Christmas tree. You listened for muffled taps on the roof, signaling that Santa had come to your house and his flying reindeer were waiting for him to place your gifts under the tree and scurry back up so they could head the next house. Remember the presents you wrote about in your letters? Promising that you had been good all year long and that your brother really did want you to draw that mustache on his face with that “semi-permanent” marker. (I mean it WAS semi-permanent, what’s the big deal?!)
Do you remember in the morning, when it was finally time to rush to the front room and dive into the sea of presents, as your parents shuffled out of their rooms, trying to hurriedly power up the camcorder so they could capture this precious and innocent time of your childhood, when the look on your face as you opened your gifts and found everything you had asked, begged, wished for during the year, turn to reality in your tiny arms? Do you remember?
Me too. I remember each and every one of those times, and they have been the moments I look back on through the years and know that I have had an incredible life. I asked for Barbie dolls, board games, glitter lip-glosses, stuffed animals that were bigger than I was, and on Christmas morning, I ran downstairs after my brothers, looked at our beautifully-decorated Christmas tree with shiny ornaments and blinking lights, and I felt happy.
Now imagine a different sort of Christmas… Imagine you’re living in an orphanage, sharing your bedroom with 8 other kids. Imagine waking up on Christmas morning, making your bed, and starting your day by brushing your teeth with a toothbrush you have to share with 25 other kids, before washing your face with a washcloth used by 20 before you. Imagine Christmas just being another day, not getting to celebrate, or spend time creating memories with your family and loved ones. In so many countries across the world, this is the reality for many underprivileged children.
Operation Christmas Child is a small light in the harsh realm of reality for these kids. OCC’s mission is to deliver shoeboxes full of toys and common toiletries to underprivileged children in countries around the world so that they can have a Christmas present. Videos and quotes are all over their website telling about testimonials from children who have received their shoe-boxes and are simply ecstatic to finally have common toiletry items of their own, such as a toothbrush or a washcloth. I have participated in Operation Christmas Child for years with my family, and I can honestly say it is the most satisfying and fulfilling feeling to know you are helping a child get a Christmas gift, who otherwise would not.
When I took a poll on my Instagram stories last week, the overwhelming majority was so responsive and was incredibly interested in finding out how they can participate this year!! I’ve detailed below some of the most popular products often put in OCC shoeboxes, as well as some other information such as, printing off labels, finding a drop-off location, etc. *All information provided was pulled directly from the Operation Christmas Child website. I’ve also included some pics of us packing our boxes this past weekend and dropping them off at the location, as well as sharing what all we packed in the boxes!
What to Pack in Your Shoebox
To begin, they have options to pack a box either for a boy or a girl. After you choose that, you choose what age range the box will be for: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Now you can begin to pack the necessities and toiletry items. Regardless of what age group I choose, I always make sure to include a washcloth, soap bar (I put mine in a plastic ziplock baggie, even though they are new and boxed/wrapped), toothbrush, and a comb or hairbrush (I usually pack combs, just because they are slimmer and don’t take up much room in the box). I will also add a pair of socks to every box (judge size based on age) and pony-tail holders/headbands for the girls.
After I pack the necessities, I add items that are more based on their age ranges. For example, if I am packing a box for a 2-4 year old, I will pack a small box of crayons/markers and a small coloring book. I will also generally buy a book of stickers and tear out pages to include with the coloring book (I tear out the pages so it won’t be a second book taking up room, but they still get a good amount of stickers!) If I am packing a box for a 5-9 year old or 10-14 year old, I will pack school supplies such as a ruler, notebook, and pens/pencils for them to use. (I will either pack regular pencils with a small pencil sharpener or just pack mechanical pencils.) Lastly, I will add a toy to the box, such as a doll or stuffed animal, action figure/toy car, or something like a slinky or yoyo (slinkys are SUPER popular to pack!). I also tend to add bead necklaces to the boxes! I will generally add 3 or 4 of these since they are super inexpensive and come in packs.
What NOT to Include in the Shoebox
Don’t include any liquids (this includes toothpaste and antibacterial ointment), food (this includes candy and gum!), war-related items, or anything breakable (no glass!). You can visit their website HERE for a full list of what NOT to include when packing your shoebox!
Prepping Your Shoebox for Packing
Before you get ready to send your shoebox, you need to make sure you have a label taped on, so they know what age and gender the shoebox is for. You can click HERE to print off the free labels for the shoeboxes! There is also an option to track your shoeboxes by purchasing labels for $9 that have a QR code that is places on the box by the label. I’ve never tried this before, but this year I decided to give it a go so I can see where my shoeboxes end up! If you want to purchase these labels with tracking for $9, you can do so HERE! Make sure the label is taped well to the box so it will not come off. We also take 2 rubber bands and place them around each end of the shoebox to ensure it does not come open.
Where to Drop Off Your Shoebox
They have tons of drop off locations around the country! National Collection Week is November 12th-19th, so make sure to get your shoeboxes packed and ready to go by then. Here is the LINK where you can type in your zipcode and find the nearest drop off location.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! It was a little more lifestyle-based than the normal fashion and beauty posts, but Operation Christmas Child is something I’ve done since I was a kid and it’s a tradition that is near and dear to my heart. I am so happy that I got to share this tradition with all of you guys and I hope some of you get to participate in OCC and pack shoeboxes of your own this year! 🙂 Look forward and stay tuned for more holiday-themed posts coming your way on Chaos and Coffee friends!!
*Gotta love real life pics, with self-timers, work clothes, and workshops!! Pictured below are my step-mom, my dad, me, and my boyfriend Jordan!*
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