How to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

operation christmas child

Happy Monday beauties! I hope you had a lovely weekend and got caught up on any sleep you missed during the week. I had the joy of listing a million things on eBay that I’m trying to get rid of before I move out of my parent’s house for good (see what I listed here).

Since Christmas is coming, I’d like to draw your attention to a wonderful tradition my family has taken part in every year since I can remember: packing Operation Christmas Child boxes. Samaritan’s Purse sponsors an initiative to spread the love of Jesus Christ at Christmas by having members of the community pack small shoe boxes with little trinkets and baubles to send to children in 3rd world countries. I love doing this every year! If you’d like to learn more about how the program works, visit their site. Read on to see what I put in my shoebox this year!

Packing an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

shoebox packing

The first thing I do when packing a shoebox is choose an age group and gender I’d like to buy for. This year, I chose a girl ages 10-14. Typically, this age group is the hardest to buy for but also the most needed in terms of boxes donated.

After I’ve done this, I make a list of things to buy for the box. There are a lot of great things to put in the box, but I’ve found that certain things are best NOT to include even though they make sense to you and I. For example, Play-Doh, the stuff we used to play with as children, shouldn’t be put into a shoebox because children in some parts of the world don’t know what it is or what to do with it. Another example is putting stuffed animals in boxes. Some animals in other cultures symbolize certain things. In a blog post I read from someone who does the shoebox distribution, a little boy got a stuffed owl in his box and in his culture owls were considered a bad omen. Needless to say he was upset by it.

OCC shoebox

Here’s the contents of my box. Most of it I found at Walmart for decent prices. The entire box cost less than $30 and it will be the best gift the child receives all year. To children in first world countries like our own, this box wouldn’t be the least bit impressive to them. For kids who aren’t so lucky, this means a lot.

items for christmas child boxes

The items I usually start with are hygienic in nature. Tooth brush, tooth paste, combs, soap and soap container, and some chapstick. An important thing to include that you might not think of is a tooth brush holder. Some children have to walk to a clean source of water in their village and need a clean place to keep their tooth brush when they’re going to and from the well.

samaritan's purse christmas child

The next things I always include are school supplies. Pens, crayons, and a notebook are great for kids that are school-aged! A clean t-shirt is also a nice addition to any box. I’ve also read where adding a flash light and some batteries is like striking gold for some of these kids and their families if they live in a place without electricity.

Since I’m doing a box for a 10-14 girl, I included some pretty hair ties, a fun bracelet, and some cute socks. Over the summer, I found some deflated beach balls on sale at Michael’s Craft Store to include in my box. Soccer is a cheap sport to play because all you really need is some sort of a ball. Similar to the flashlight, kids love getting these!

I hope you consider doing one of these boxes! You can pick them up at many local churches and Chick fil a is a big sponsor of the program! National collection week is November 16-23. Wherever you picked up your box at, you can drop it off there too. The rest is taken care of by volunteers.

Let me know if you decide to do a box or have questions!

witty n pretty

5 Free Ways to Destress


Happy Monday! I feel so refreshed after the weekend. The last week has been a thorn in my side and I needed some recovery time. My anxiety was out of control and when this happens, it’s really important to take a step back and relax. I feel so much better now that I wanted to share with you 5 (free!) ways that I relaxed this weekend.

  1. Brew something hot– Whether it be cocoa, coffee, or tea, for whatever reason we feel better when something is warming us from the inside out. It probably stems from our positive association of warm drinks and soup with our parents or even grandparents taking care of us when we were sick as kids.
  2. Help someone else– Doing something good for another person, even if it’s just smiling and asking how they are, takes your focus off of your problems and allows you to think about someone else’s.
  3. Read– Since graduating college, I’ve slowly started to enjoy reading again. It takes my mind away from where I am and all of my worries and lets me think about something else for awhile.
  4. Take a nap– When we’re sick or tired we take naps. The same goes for when we have a lot of worries. Sometimes we need to take a break from our anxiety-filled thoughts and just sleep it off. Waking up after a long rest leaves you with clarity and feeling refreshed.
  5. Go where you feel loved- For me, this means I go home to my parents or if my beau is in town, I go to him. It’s so important to be around people that you feel safe with. Find those people, whether they’re the baristas at a coffee shop or right in your mother’s kitchen, and go spend time with them.

What do you do to relax? Leave me a comment!


Sponsoring a Child Abroad!

Child_SponsorshipLast April (2013) I saw an ad on my newsfeed for child sponsorship. I remember my parents did it for a little girl in Kenya until she was a legal adult. Her name was Ketray. Through the $35 a month my parents sent to her she got to go to school, buy clothes, help fund her family farm, and gave her school supplies. We got pictures and letters from her and sometimes her family telling us about their lives and thanking us for our help.

3 Kids’ Lives Changed by the Kindness of Complete Strangers

I had been wanting to find someone to sponsor on my own but didn’t Costa_Ricaknow where to look or begin. I wanted to be led to it by God anyway. And I finally was. I found a little girl who was 6 years old in Costa Rica who desperately needed help. Her parents couldn’t afford school for her. I agreed to sponsor her on the spot.

A Year later, I’m still her sponsor despite difficult financial times for myself. This little girl is the cutest thing! I’m really blessed to sponsor her. I’ve gotten letters from her mom and drawings from Elizabeth (my sponsor child) as well.

One of the most interesting things to learn about her was her love for painting! Its her favorite thing to do at school. I find it interesting to think that I’m investing in a future artist for only $35 a month. I’m also investing in the future of Costa Rica. The more educated a group of people are, the better off the society is as a whole.

Deepak, my parent’s sponsor child!

After a few months of sponsoring I decided to become a child ambassador for World Vision International, the charity I sponsor my child through. I have to get 10 children a year sponsored. My parents volunteered to sponsor a boy in India named Deepak. He’s 3 and has the cutest little pouty face we’ve ever seen. His family and even neighbors have written to my parents thanking them for helping the family and Deepak.

My parents’ good friends also decided to sponsor a child. They went to my sponsor page and chose a child in a very unique way. The lady had just lost her dad and he had absolutely loved to visit South America and volunteer his time helping the poor. She entered in his birth date and selected a country her dad loved to visit. The first child that came up was a little boy named Joseph. Her dad’s name was also Joseph. They committed to sponsoring him immediately.

In case you’re wondering, World Vision has a very good track record of transparency in their funding and where it goes. They have a 5% overhead and spend 12% on fundraising. The other 83% goes to children around the world. You can find this information on their website.

World_Vision World Vision also organizes trips for sponsors to meet their sponsor children abroad. While it does cost the sponsors money, World Vision takes care of the entire trip. All you do is go and meet your child. You can also send packages or small letters to them. Some countries have different restrictions on what can be sent and how much but for the most part small packages are accepted.

A wonderful aspect of this organization is the easy way you can communicate with your child. Once you World_Vision sponsor a child, they give you log in information for your own site to check on your child, their community, and their progress. You can also email them through the site and they will write back via snail mail. For every holiday, World Vision will send you a letter for you to sign that usually has some sort of activity for the sponsor child to do such as coloring a picture. You send it back to World Vision and they get it to the child. This process takes several months but excites the younger kids.

A note about the organization- it is one of the top 10 largest charities in the USA. They are Christian based, HOWEVER, they will not discriminate against or drop children who are not Christians. In some countries they work in, it is illegal to be Christian so there can be no direct religious messages to the kids. In these places, the charity tries to use their servant attitudes and kindness to bare witness of their faith to those people.

There are still thousands of kids that need someone to volunteer for them. Would you or someone you know be willing to do it? Visit my sponsorship page if you’d like to have a look at the children who are waiting for someone to sponsor their future. Take the plunge because I’m glad I did!

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