Every October our MOPS group (and many around the county) runs one of our favourite meeting sessions of the year- packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We love pooling our donated items and packing the boxes together over coffee and conversation. The chance to spread love and kindness to an unknown child brings us so much joy.
If you haven’t heard of Operation Christmas Child before, it’s a wonderful project run by Samaritan’s Purse here in Australia (and worldwide) providing gifts to children in need around the world.
How it works
The idea is to pack a shoebox full of gifts for a child. This may be the only gift some of these kids will get in their childhood- so we like to make it special! First you need to think about if you want to make a box for a girl or a boy, and the age group you will buy for; 2-4 years old, 5-9 years old or 10-14 years old.
What to pack?
Typically there are 5 categories to cover off when you pack a gift box
- School supplies- such as pencils, ruler, sharpener, pencil case and small lined books. In many places if children cannot afford school supplies, they cannot attend school.
- Hygiene items – such as face washer, soap, toothbrush, comb, hairbands or a drink bottle.
- Something to wear- like a t-shirt, underwear, hat and sunglasses.
- A ‘wow’ item or toys- maybe a ball, skipping rope, a toy car, necklace or something to love like a small doll or teddy.
We make sure we cover off items from each category then fill the box to the brim with whatever we like. You can even include a photo or letter if you want. (Pro Tip: rubber bands are handy for keeping boxes closed). It’s essential you attach a recipient label to the box so they know the gender and age of the intended recipient.
What not to pack
All items packed must be new. Avoid including any item packaging or cheap plastic toys that will quickly break- we don’t want to add to pollution problems.
These boxes will travel long distances, and often the boxes from Australia land in hot and tropical places. You should not pack any liquid items that could leak in transit (like toothpaste or shampoo). Don’t pack anything that can break, melt or spoil (such as crayons, mirrors, glass trinkets, foods or lollies).
Obviously we need to be respectful of local culture. Do not include anything that could be considered gambling or war related (such as dominos, and playing cards or toy soldiers/weapons).
Don’t forget a Donation
Samaritan’s Purse have box collection points all over the country to drop off your filled boxes during October. They do ask for a $10 donation per box to assist with the freight of the boxes. It is also used for equipping local churches in the delivery area, and providing the box recipient with a gospel booklet in their own language.
In 2020 there were 214,301 boxes packed in Australia and New Zealand. These were sent to the Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Malawi, Fiji and Madagascar.
While in 2020 we could not meet as a group to pack the boxes together, we still took joy in packing boxes individually. Its also a great opportunity to get kids involved in doing something for others. They will have fun picking items out for a kid their own age. It’s a fun way to spread some love and kindness in these challenging and uncertain days.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12