The holidays are upon us and many of us are gearing up for a great Christmas. For us this includes great food, great gifts, and the joy of family. However, it isn't the same for everyone all over the world. There are many families that are in disadvantaged areas and areas that are torn by war. Here children aren't likely to get any gifts. However, we can change that!

Operation Christmas Child.

Most of us are pretty privileged and we take things for advantage. However, for a small amount of money we can put together a whole shoe box full of great gifts for a child who wouldn't get a gift. To begin you will want to get a shoe box. Any size will do, but the bigger the shoe box the more stuff that you can fit in there. While you don't have to it makes a very festive package if you wrap the box. To do this you would wrap the bottom and the top separate.

Choose Who Your Gift Will Go To.

While you can't decide where the box will go or who exactly it will go to you will want to decide if you are going to give a to a boy or a girl. Once you have decided which gender you will be filling the box for and then choose an age group. You can choose to buy gifts for a boy or a girl aged 2 to 4, 5 to 9, and 10 to 14. You will need to print a tag according to the gender and make sure you clearly mark the age group you will be filling the box for.

Fill It Up.

There are many, many different things that you can put into the box that will be exciting for a child to receive. Here are many different ideas, but you certainly don't have to stay limited to these items!

  • School supplies. Include a small pad of paper, 3 by 5 cards, a small coloring book or activity pad, or even small children's books. You can include a variety of writing utensils including pencils, pens, markers, colored pencils, and so on. Toss in some cool erasers and a great pencil sharpener while you are at it.
  • Hygiene items. We often take hygiene for granted and we don't think about what others don't have. The child that receives your box is likely to be excited about a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a comb, a small bar of mild soap, and or a wash cloth.
  • Goodies. It is also a great idea to toss in some goodies such as hard candy, gum, mints, or lollipops. You will want to make sure that you put all of these items into two seal-able plastic bags to make sure that it won't make a mess. As good as chocolate is you don't want to put anything in there that is likely to melt in warmer temperatures. This means no chocolate, caramels, or other soft candies.
  • Toys. It is a good idea to pick out a wide range of small toys. Consider cars, flashing toys, small dolls, stuffed animals, games, and noise makers. Most small toys will be really appreciated, but you shouldn't include warlike toys with weapons including knives and guns or toy soldiers.
  • Clothing and accessories. There are some small clothing items such as shirts and socks that can be added to the box. You can also include hair ties and clips for girl packages as well. Sunglasses and watches are also great items to include.
  • A note and picture. If you want you can include a note, a picture, and even your address. While there is no guarantee that you will get a note back it is possible.

Things To Keep In Mind.

Most things that you could think of that your child may like are allowed, but there are a few things that aren't allowed and it should be noted before you rush out and buy bunches of great stuff to fill your shoe box.

  • Make sure that the items that you put in there aren't expired. You don't want to include any candy, toothpaste, or other items that are past their date.
  • While hard candy, gum, and mints are allowed you shouldn't put any other food or any candies that could melt (as stated up above). However, you need to make sure that you double bag the items to protect them and the other things in the box.
  • As mentioned above you want to make sure that you don't have any warlike toys or violent toys. No guns, knives, swords, bows and arrows, or other even toy soldiers. Many of these children are in areas that have been torn apart by war and it isn't a good idea to foster warlike ideas in these children. Many have also lost parents to war situations.
  • Liquids and lotions shouldn't be included because they may leak and make a mess and because of the dangers of shipping them.
  • Aerosol cans aren't allowed because they could really cause a mess. While there are a lot of fun and exciting things that can come in an aerosol can you will want to avoid sending them.
  • Medications and vitamins are not allowed so you should just skip them.
  • These boxes will be traveling a long way so you want to avoid any glass items and make sure that you don't send anything that is likely to break. This should also include snow globes and other cool items.

Give a Donation.

In an envelope inside the box you should include a donation to help your box make its way to the child who will be blessed by it. You should write a check to Samaritan's Purse and put OCC (Operation Christmas Child) in the memo space. You want to include at least $7 for each box that you send. You are welcome to include more than that to help the program out, but it isn't necessary.

Pack Your Box, Rubber Band It, and Take It In.

November 15-22 is the collection days. You will want to pack up your shoe box and wrap a rubber band to seel it. Then take it to the nearest collection site. To find a site near you visit the Operation Christmas Child website and enter your zip code. There is also an address with which you can mail in your box to, but make sure that it gets there before the collection of boxes is done.

You and your family can be a huge blessing for someone else. If you can't afford to fill a box all by yourself then join in with another family or give a small donation to help boxes make their way to children all over the world who could use the joy a small box can bring. Have fun with it. Get your children involved. Be a blessing this holiday.