Everyday Life, Two Legged Fun

Giving Back Without Breaking The Bank: Operation Christmas Child

This week we are focusing our charitable efforts on a more global scale with the Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box program run by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.  The church my daughter’s preschool is run out of collects these boxes every year, so it was very easy for me to grab two boxes to fill and bring back.  Annual collection week for all shoeboxes runs next week from November 16-22 so there is still time for you to fill a box and help make a huge difference in a child’s life.

The boxes are meant to be filled with a variety of toys, school supplies and toiletries.   They are shipped all across the world to children in third world countries who might not otherwise receive anything for Christmas.  The Operation Christmas Child site has great instructions on How To Pack a Shoebox, and I really love this expanded list of box-filling ideas from Passionate Penny Pincher.

Operation Christmas Child Labels and Boxes

To get my kids on board, I showed them a promotional video on the Operation Christmas Child website and explained that these children don’t have the toys and treats that they have.  Unfortunately, the conversation afterwards went a little something like this:

5 Year Old:  How come these kids don’t get any toys mom?
Me:  Well, their mommies and daddies can’t afford to buy toys.  They spend all the money they do have on more important things they really need like food and clothing.
5 Year Old:  But that’s RUDE!  How come Santa doesn’t bring them any toys?
Me:  …..

I quickly changed the subject, but it definitely made me stop and think.  I still haven’t come up with a good answer, but hopefully our boxes help brighten the lives of a couple children and make them feel loved this Christmas.

Here’s how we filled our two boxes inexpensively:

Coupons and Clearance Sales

I purchased a Mega Bloks set from Toys R Us as a birthday gift back in September and received a $10 promotional card to use on Mega Bloks in October.  Since the card required the purchase of a set valued at $10 or more, I found a Hot Wheels building set valued right around the $10 mark and only had to pay taxes on the toy.  The small set fit perfect in the shoebox we were putting together for a 5-9 year old boy, and it cost me next to nothing.

Operation Christmas Child Boxes

For our second 2-4 year old girl box, I looked to what I had tucked away in my gift closet and decided on this Daisy Duck dress-up set I had grabbed on clearance at Costco after last Christmas.  Once out of the package, the pieces fit nicely in the box with plenty of room for all our other goodies.

Operation Christmas Child Filling Boxes

Shop the Dollar Store

We needed a variety of other small items to help fill each of the boxes so I took the kids to both Dollarama and Dollar Tree.  The kids had a blast helping pick out everything from markers and toothbrushes to small toys and drinking cups to fill their boxes, and hopefully our recipients will be just as excited to receive them.  Dollar Tree even conveniently had a display of pamphlets providing box filling suggestions and the labels we needed for our boxes.

Operation Christmas Child shopping at Dollar Tree

We also hit up the party favour aisle at Party City to pick up a few other small trinkets.  All the items were under $1 and the kids were excited to shop amongst the bouncy balls, mini paint kits and character themed toys.

Operation Christmas Child shopping at Party Cty

Once our boxes were all packed up, I took a picture of the kids to print out and put it with a message in each of the boxes. I dropped the boxes back off at the church during preschool drop-off, and then made sure to go back on the Operation Christmas Child website to pay $7 for each box to cover shipping.

Operation Christmas Child Boxes and Letter

This was such a fun and easy project and one definitely worth repeating each holiday season.  I will try to watch for more clearance toys and school supplies this upcoming year so I can tuck some items away and hopefully be able to fill a few more boxes next Christmas.

Operation Christmas Child Boxes

Total Cost to Donate to Operation Christmas Child:  Approx $25 per box in toys and supplies + $7 each for shipping

Givng Back Without Breaking the Bank

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