So starting when Noah was 2 years old, we have as a family worked on doing at least 20 shoeboxes full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child from Samaritian's Purse. Here were the boxes we did in 2010. And we even did 22 boxes in 2009. Each year we budget enough resources to do 20 boxes. It is part of our Christmas tradition and we plan part of the money we would usually spend on gifts for these shoe boxes.
Noah and Olivia both know they have been blessed with many things. Last year, I was awestruck when Noah watched one of the videos of kids who would be receiving boxes like these. The kids were digging through piles and piles of garbage looking for stuff to eat and to sell. I had never seen my little boy so pensive and quiet. The world is a big big place, we can make it all a bit better by sharing.
And this year we shared our tradition with our home team Bible Study group. We had each family bring something for each of the boxes to combine with our stuff. And over the course of an hour, we had 9 active kids (plus their moms) packing toothbrushes, soap, toothpaste, candy and toys for the boxes. I didn't get any photos of this last night as it was a bit chaotic with 9 but all the kids seem to have a lot of fun.
This morning, Noah and Olivia helped me to sort and count the boxes - and we ended up with 20 of them. Olivia helped me inspect them this morning:
Noah wanted to give his sister hugs about them. It also clicked b/c I asked him to count the 5 stacks of 4 boxes each and he realized that 4 x 5 = 20 (as we have been practicing multiplication) and he verified it by counting each box.
Olivia then helped us move each box to the edge of the stairs and Noah walked them down with me one by one. Both kids also helped to load the car today.
And as hard is the lesson can be, sharing truly is a giving experience for all of us. All the kids seemed to enjoy helping to pack the boxes. And I get excited for the thrill of the hunt for goodies on sale throughout the year. If this is something you are thinking about doing with your family, here are some tips on when to find the best deals for shoe box goodies
1. Back - to - school deals - when crayons and pencils are $0.30/ pack or box I stock up. Same goes for the $0.10 scissors or $0.25 note pads and rulers.
2. When Halloween is done, some places have their hard candy up to 75% off; I buy 5 bags at that time and we fill ziplock bags full of it so the kids can have something sweet (we also do make sure we include toothpaste and brushes so they can keep their teeth clean too).
3. When stores are cleaning their toys out for the next season, I buy them in bulk. I have a special place in my linen closet that is just a box full of things I amass throughout the year for this particular project.
These things are ways we can make our money stretch further and to be able to make more boxes with the same budget. We are also very thankful this year for all the friends who came to help us with the boxes and also those who brought us things for them.
Above all this is a project that I feel is a gift to me. I would rather do this than get something for Christmas. The joy I get from this is more a blessing to me than anything else gift wise and I wouldn't have it any other way.