What to Put in Operation Christmas Child Shoebox and what NOT to!

Published on October 8, 2020 by Lauren

There are many great causes throughout the year that offer support and help to those less fortunate. When the Christmas season begins to rev up (that’s around March, right?), some specific giving opportunities move to the forefront. My favorite one is Operation Christmas Child. I know many of you may be wondering what to put in operation Christmas child shoebox. 

While it is always a great thing to be able to give (more than the 3 gift Christmas rule that I like to follow) and provide a shoebox, it’s important to be mindful of what is included in your gift. They do NOT accept everything and it is really important that we don’t waste others’ time by having to throw boxes out because they get ruined.

 

NOTE: This post was updated October 2020

what to put in operation christmas child shoebox

About Operation Shoe box and Samaritan’s Purse

If you are unfamiliar with Operation Christmas Child from Samaritan’s Purse, you can read more about it. Basically, you pack a shoebox with gifts and Samaritan’s Purse sends it (along with other shoeboxes) to children as a Christmas present and outreach.

Many businesses and churches host packing parties where you do it together, which is something I LOVE to do with my kids during the holiday season! I plan for Operation Christmas Child in my money-saving budget planner for this every year. I try to have Christmas on a budget every year, and including items like these helps me stay on task. When I started learning how to budget for Christmas, it was suggested to me to add in a giving category.

what to put in operation christmas child shoebox

Operation Christmas Child shoebox Covid 19 Updates

This year with the Covid-19 pandemic, the organization has made some modifications around the packing parties in order to comply with federal, state, and local guidelines around social distancing and indoor gathering requirements.

I love that they have even created a digital option so you can build your shoebox online. You simply choose a donation range, whether you want to build your box or have it created for you, select the gender and age range of the child you would like to give to, and then add some pre-selected ideas into the virtual box. This option is also available for churches and similar organizations that want to have a group goal of donations.

Most recommended items to pack in your Operation Christmas Child shoebox:

  • School supplies – chalkboards with chalk, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, scissors, backpacks
  • Toys – sports balls (with pump if needed), dolls, stuffed animals, play cars
  • Make-your-own crafts – add your personal touch
  • Non-liquid hygiene items – bar soap, toothbrush, washcloths. Do not send toothpaste though 🙂
  • Clothing accessories – tops, shoes, socks, hair bows, gloves, scarves
  • Small musical instrument – harmonica, recorder
  • A personal note from your family – if you include your name and address it’s possible that the child could write you back!
  • Fishing Kit – this one was taken from a comment. This is what the commenter said:  “I love including a fishing kit. Quality fishing that will hold a 30-pound fish, several different sized fish hooks. A large pack can be shared in a couple of boxes. A sinker so the light line will actually sink below the surface where fish swim, and a bobber/ marker. Walmart clearance sells these so that for about under a dollar fifty I can include a fishing kit in the 10-14 year-old boxes.”
  • A Small Sewing Kit – This can actually become an income for a family
  • A Small Toolkit – include nails, hammer, screws, screwdriver. Just leave out the saws!
  • Clothesline and Clothespins
  • Small brain games like puzzle books, wooden puzzle games, or etch-a-sketch toys
  • Check the comments for other great ideas

what to put in operation christmas child shoebox

Items that should not be included in your shoebox:

  • Used or damaged items
  • War-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures
  • Chocolate or food, including candy – due to customs regulations
  • Seeds
  • Liquids or lotions – these can spill and get all over the other items
  • Medications or vitamins
  • Breakable items such as snow-globes or glass containers
  • Aerosol cans
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Check the comments for other great ideas

Some items are not permitted due to obvious reasons, but you should try to review and consider each item before including it in your shoebox. For example, if you want to send a CD, that is allowed, but the child receiving the CD might not have a CD player. There could even be the potential for that child not having access to reliable electricity where they are located. So, while you are able to send a CD, there are more aspects of that CD to consider.

what to put in operation christmas child shoebox

Can I put candy in my Operation Christmas Child shoebox?

Unfortunately NO. No type of candy is allowed in shoebox gifts, due to increasing customs regulations.  Chocolate is a definite no-no due to the hot temperatures in many of the climates the shoeboxes are shipped to.

Does Operation Christmas Child repack the boxes?

No they do not. They keep them in tact. Consider using the free boxes that OCC distributes. These are called “Go Boxes.” This helps out in many ways: First, they are lightweight and cost less to ship. Second, They are perfect for fitting into the larger cartons that they are packed in before shipping overseas. At the processing center you can fit 23 OCC Go Boxes into a shipping container, this is the ‘perfect’ box and costs much less to ship.

How much does it cost to send an Operation Christmas Child box?

You can simple drop your box off at a local dropoff location for free and they can ship it for you. They do suggest that you make a donation of $9.00, since that is the amount it takes to ship each box, however it is not necessary.

what to put in operation christmas child shoebox

What do you write in an Operation Christmas Child card?

You want to write something thoughtful and kind. Include a bible verse and a picture of your family. I always like to include my return address so that they can write back if they want to. Often times the kids will write back a thank you note and send a picture that they drew.

If an item requires batteries, it’s also a good idea to include extra batteries as those might not be available to the child. And please note that loose batteries must have both ends covered according to the packing tips.

Many of our readers have shared to use discretion when choosing popular superheroes for toys or on clothing items. Remember they may unknown in other countries and could come across as scary to children there.

Other Helpful Information to Know:

Samaritan’s Purse provides a great FAQ that gives a lot more information on what can be sent and any restrictions.  It’s super simple!

Other than a great opportunity to bless a child for Christmas, Operation Christmas Child offers your family a great project to help focus on considering others. Help round out this experience by discussing the reason for the shoebox with your children. Your child might not have considered that other children don’t have the same kind of life that your child has. What a great way to reach out and share your love while teaching your child to learn about other areas of the world!

As we try to spend less on Christmas presents and more on giving, this is a great opportunity to give back!

what to put in operation christmas child shoebox

In 2020 the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox collection week is November 16-23rd! You can drop off your shoebox at over 4,000 locations across the U.S. Use the online drop-off finder to determine a location near you. 

Preparing an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift is a perfect chance to open your child’s eyes to blessing others and maybe even sow a seed in your little one to reach out to others around the world and locally.

 

COMMENTS

  • Is toothpaste still an acceptable item for the Shoe Boxes? I also understand we can not send candy or snacks of any kind, is this also true? Thanks you. Getting info for our Sunday School Class.

  • Hello this operation christmas sounds so fun I s love seeing children so happy may God bless them and protect them

  • I love this program, I always put a wash cloth and a bar of soap in every box. you can get really nice wash cloths at Marshalls for $2.99

    • Dollar Tree stores have washcloths with cartoon characters that are less than 2 inches when dry (they take very little space) but expand to a large size when wet. I put it and the soap in a ziploc bag.

    • A roll of rope w/ clothes pins, a hammer/ screwdriver and pack of nails/ screws, a plastic tarp from a hardware or discount store to keep a family dry, provide a privacy wall in crowded coditions where shoebox recipients live in or near homeless mass campus areas or dumps, several washcloths and a large good quality bath towel, good hairbrush, tee shirt, elastic waist skirt or pants with adjustment waists( end of season clearance racks are great sources for quality cheap, two or three pairs of underwear( get several bonus packs during before school school sales( open and mix sizes in boxes( a sibling pair is thoughtful, or a pair for a mother), sewing kit that includes wide- holed needles and embroidery floss, fishing kit( boy/ girl box- food for family),warm fleece blanket( even in 90* heat, kids in Asia, etc. are cold, when they are used to 136*F , cooking supplies, plastic cup and cereal bowl , get seniors to knit hats, scarves, schools or church to donate leftover beads from crafts or new bulk beads- teens could make bead mini kits, coloring sheets, fold computer paper into drawing booklets, good quality pencils and erasers with pens, math set, notebooks, board , knit comfort dolls, picture books, dominoes, blocks, quality stuffed toy( a child getting attached to one that falls apart would be sad when Mom has no repair kit), toy cars, fidget spinner, plastic animals, etch a sketch, pack of soap for family, bar of laundry soap with cut out picture of clothed glued to it, strong, thick plastic, wide toothed comb, lice combs, jumbo dishtowel( baby could lie on it, child dry with it, or use as a wraparound skirt( many have NO clothing) , rubber boots, sturdy shoes, or quality flip flop sandals on clearance racks- seriously better to have a box with two or three long lasting useful items than filled with 15 poor quality items-consider your children and give like these box recipients are your children- they are God’s children and worthy of a quality gift, that will lift hardship ( i.e.- water cup for a child who walks 10 miles a day carrying water in very very hot areas.

      • If I chose the Girls 10-14, would I be allowed to include a ‘Period kit’ with pads, liners an info book etc?

      • Yes – sanitary supplies for the older girls are allowed and needed. Of course not the paper ones we use here. I have tried to attach instructions to make washable pads. If the link doesn’t work you can always google it.

        /Users/Carol.Alberto/OneDrive/Documents/OCC/Pads for girls/Cloth-Pads-Instruction-Cards.pdf/
        Users/Carol.Alberto/OneDrive/Documents/OCC/Pads for girls/How-to-Make-Cloth-Pads-for-OCC-Shoeboes.pdf

  • Hi, my church is doing shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse. Our Children’s Church Dept. wants to make maracas using plastic eggs for shaker part and plastic spoons for the handle. We know we can’t use rocks, rice, beans, or popcorn to make the shaker sound. Is it okay to put paper clips inside of eggs to make the shaker noise? If not are small plastic caps allowed off a product? Or how about cut up Popsicle sticks made of wood? Or what would you recommend? We plan to use colored tape to hold everything together. Thank you for your help. May God continue to bless your ministry.
    Linda Harding

      • Seeds are not allowed. From OCC website – “Candy; toothpaste; gum; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; SEEDS, fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans”

  • I’ve done the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas in a shoebox for the past three years, and it’s my last year of school, so I want to make a really big effort for this one: I’m donating a box to each category (hopefully). I know it’s probably classified as food, but I was wondering if vegetable seeds in packets are okay? They are non-perishables but I understand the other reasons behind not allowing foodstuff, and I’m not sure if the seeds qualify.

      • This is such an incredible opportunity to give a really needy child a gift, maybe the first and last gift they will ever receive.i love that you are thinking of a way to make a lasting difference for the child’s family who receives your box( es)!! I love including a fishing kit( quality fishing like that will hold a 30 pound fish, several different sized fish hooks( a large pack can be shared in a couple of boxes) , a sinker so the light line will actually sink below the surface where fish swim, and a bobber/ marker. Walmart clearance sells these so that for about under a dollar fifty I can include a fishing kit in the 10-14 year old boxes. I also include good strong sewing thread, scissors,sewing needles of varying sizes, including needles for yarn, , darning, embroidery, and hand sewing needles, scissors, embroidery floss, pin cushion or handmade felt needle book, Pinterest has instructions, safety pins( like gold inareas where torn clothing is recycled from garbage dumps,or where no sewing kit thread is available anymore, to holld a wrap around skirt on, etc., various sized buttons- new or cut from discarded clothing- if off of clothing- sterilized in a bowl rubbing alcohol or bleach, rinsed, and dried, A sewing kit can be a source of family income if it is of good quality, with adequate supplies to start a seamstress off until items sold can replenish supplies. A sturdy steel bowl, mixing spoons, are handy to a family. IKEA sells quality plastic children’s dishes, at a bargain price. 6 of either cereal sized bowls, glasses, or 6 – 3 piece cutlery sets each ( 6 piece set) costs about $2.50.
        I try to make every bit of box space count, and try to fill the boxes with serviceable items, of the best quality I can afford. I scout thrift stores, yard sales for new items- some beautiful new clothing, with original store tags can be found for a dollar or less at these places.( parents pass on gifts received in sizes their children have outgrown, for instance), I shop clearance racks year round, following school sales( better 5 quality pencils than a pack of 20 whose leads break easily.and an eraser or two, pens, math set, sharpener, a few notebooks at $0.10, ) at an end of season sale last year, at an outlet store, I found jogging sets , priced at $44-$58 originally- for $1.00- one dollar- also dresses, tops, short sets, jeans, and $24 baby blankets etc at the same amazing price. Walmart had baskets of shoes, prices up to $40 originally- also for $1.00- many were tennis type kids, small teens shoes. With such bargains, and jump ropes, dolls I knit, balls, hotwheel cars, whistles, harmonicas, etc. I was able to fill over 200 boxes, spending my Shoebox $ carefully! I ask crafty friends if they might consider filling boxes, or contributing things like bars of soap, packs of wash cloths, hand towels, computer paper to copy coloring pages or fold for drawing paper, or making a doll, teddy bear, wooden cars, cloth picture books or a tic-tac-toe wooden or cloth game, sewing pillowcase dresses, shorts with a longer length and elastic waist, long or skirts with elastic bands and a longer length to accommodate growth… and the modest clothing worn in many countries, sorting huge jars of craft beads into portions for making a few necklaces or bracelets, forbidden items get removed at the box inspection centers.. I have volunteered at a center. Seeds are banned, even between North American borders. Some seeds are poisonous… some seeds may carry plant diseases that could infect native plants… young siblings could eat them… especially if family does not know what they are. Scary toys or items are removed from boxes… super hero toys/ tee shirts may scare a child who never had a toy, tv, and lives in an area where there is much talk about evil spirits, etc.
        Some items that I also saw removed were liquid items like shampoo, creams,etc- one lady told me she helped to distribute boxes… a pack of wax crayons is acceptable
        and appreciated! BUT in a hot country, if not in a sealed, container, might melt over more than one box, ruining them. But even in very hot places like India, crayons are appreciated- with drawing paper-coloring pages are best if copied from Pinterest, etc. and the pictures are of universal things- i.e.- nature pictures like baby animals, zoo or farm animals, also things like children swinging, swimming, family, children playing ball, even pictures like ones found on ‘Raising Our Children’ coloring site, or other great sites for children, like National Geographic.
        Marbles and tiny bouncy balls are liked by 10-14 year olds but 2-4 and even a 5 or 6 year old who never saw marbles or a ball, might put them in their mouths. I try to include a zip lock bag, plastic screw top container, or drawstring bag for marbles. All plastic bags and wrappings- cellophane toy bags, price labels, are removed before boxes are shipped out of the country.
        Imagine hundreds of children, with no trash cans, tossing all this packaging on the ground, as, excitedly, they open their Shoebox gifts. Also, if the ones distributing boxes in any given area had to clean up packaging, it would take away time they have to spend with the children, showing them how to open a plastic container of craft beads or a sewing kit, how to inflate a soccer ball with the air pump that came with it, etc.
        Stray animals might eat plastic or a toddler might- even staples might be ingested. A zip lock or screw top or safe container is a really considerate item to
        include in a box with several pencils, erasers, pencil and wax
        crayons, Lego bricks, hair ties, small parts. A small cotton or fleece baby blanket, or quality bath towel, rolls tightly, and is an awesome gift. A family shares these multi purpose items- a clean safe place to lie a baby, a sleeping mat for children, a wrap around skirt for a child without any clothing at all, agood quality really absorbent( some are pretty, but not too absorbent) large towel, to dry on, use as a privacy curtain in crowded quarters. Some kind person sent beautifully decorated glass egg in a box- sadly it had to be removed as broken glass might ruin a boxes or cut recipients or others if glass is tossed on the ground. There are really valid reasons why some items are banned. But with so many other items, filling a box can be such fun!
        If you find yourself with extra items leftover from your box filling, pack them in a bag or cardboard box, label them Shoebox packing extras, or something similar, and hand them in with your filled box! At the box inspection center, boxes are not only checked for safety but to be sure they are adequately filled. A child receiving a box with a soccer ball and pump would probably be thrilled if that was all the box contained. But another child , opening a box beside them, that contained only a whistle from left over party favors( which are great to fill little empty spaces in boxes) and a washcloth, or a pencil and 1 crayon and several coloring pages might be happy, too. But I try to think of my children and fill boxes like I was packing theim the nicest gift I could get within my budget. I saw a few boxes under- packed . After all, the chance to send love and compassion to children who live in conditions we hope our children never have to experience( distributing boxes or care is different than living in underprivileged areas, full time! – and box recipients may have been born into extreme poverty, or are undergoing traumatic living circumstances due to flooding, earthquakes, war, etc. Extra leftover items sent with packed boxes allow the inspection center volunteers to finish filling boxes more adequately, and bring joy in the midst of heartache.

      • This is such an incredible opportunity to give a really needy child a gift, maybe the first and last gift they will ever receive.i love that you are thinking of a way to make a lasting difference for the child’s family who receives your box( es)!! I love including a fishing kit( quality fishing like that will hold a 30 pound fish, several different sized fish hooks( a large pack can be shared in a couple of boxes) , a sinker so the light line will actually sink below the surface where fish swim, and a bobber/ marker. Walmart clearance sells these so that for about under a dollar fifty I can include a fishing kit in the 10-14 year old boxes. I also include good strong sewing thread, scissors,sewing needles of varying sizes, including needles for yarn, , darning, embroidery, and hand sewing needles, scissors, embroidery floss, pin cushion or handmade felt needle book, Pinterest has instructions, safety pins( like gold inareas where torn clothing is recycled from garbage dumps,or where no sewing kit thread is available anymore, to holld a wrap around skirt on, etc., various sized buttons- new or cut from discarded clothing- if off of clothing- sterilized in a bowl rubbing alcohol or bleach, rinsed, and dried, A sewing kit can be a source of family income if it is of good quality, with adequate supplies to start a seamstress off until items sold can replenish supplies. A tool kit with a sturdy hammer, level, a quantity of various sized nails, tape measure can help build a shelter or provide income. A sturdy steel bowl, mixing spoons, are handy to a family. IKEA sells quality plastic children’s dishes, at a bargain price. 6 of either cereal sized bowls, glasses, or 6 – 3 piece cutlery sets each ( 6 piece set) costs about $2.50. A clothes line, clothes pins and plastic makeup bag, etc to hold them and bar of laundry soap as well as pack of bath soap.
        I try to make every bit of box space count, and try to fill the boxes with serviceable items, of the best quality I can afford. I scout thrift stores, yard sales for new items- some beautiful new clothing, with original store tags can be found for a dollar or less at these places.( parents pass on gifts received in sizes their children have outgrown, for instance), I shop clearance racks year round, following school sales( better 5 quality pencils than a pack of 20 whose leads break easily.and an eraser or two, pens, math set, sharpener, a few notebooks at $0.10, ) at an end of season sale last year, at an outlet store, I found jogging sets , priced at $44-$58 originally- for $1.00- one dollar- also dresses, tops, short sets, jeans, and $24 baby blankets etc at the same amazing price. Walmart had baskets of shoes, prices up to $40 originally- also for $1.00- many were tennis type kids, small teens shoes. With such bargains, and jump ropesfrom summer clearance, dolls I knit, balls, hotwheel cars, whistles, harmonicas, etc. I was able to fill over 200 boxes, spending my Shoebox $ carefully! I ask crafty friends if they might consider filling boxes, or contributing things like bars of soap, packs of wash cloths, hand towels, computer paper to copy coloring pages or fold for drawing paper, or making a doll, teddy bear, wooden cars, cloth picture books or a tic-tac-toe wooden or cloth game, sewing pillowcase dresses, shorts with a longer length and elastic waist, long or skirts with elastic bands and a longer length to accommodate growth… and the modest clothing worn in many countries, sorting huge jars of craft beads into portions for making a few necklaces or bracelets, I ask local businesses for donations ( tooth brushes from dentists, once for another charity 100 plus mini sports balls from a sports store, shoelaces from shoe stores, a real estate office donated 300 mini bears once from their to conference leftovers, or if they would like to fill a box. forbidden items get removed at the box inspection centers.. I have volunteered at a center. Seeds are banned, even between North American borders. Some seeds are poisonous… some seeds may carry plant diseases that could infect native plants… young siblings could eat them… especially if family does not know what they are. Scary toys or items are removed from boxes… super hero toys/ tee shirts may scare a child who never had a toy, tv, and lives in an area where there is much talk about evil spirits, etc.
        Some items that I also saw removed were liquid items like shampoo, creams,etc- one lady told me she helped to distribute boxes… a pack of wax crayons is acceptable
        and appreciated! BUT in a hot country, if not in a sealed, container, might melt over more than one box, ruining them. But even in very hot places like India, crayons are appreciated- with drawing paper-coloring pages are best if copied from Pinterest, etc. and the pictures are of universal things- i.e.- nature pictures like baby animals, zoo or farm animals, also things like children swinging, swimming, family, children playing ball, even pictures like ones found on ‘Raising Our Children’ coloring site, or other great sites for children, like National Geographic.
        Marbles and tiny bouncy balls are liked by 10-14 year olds but 2-4 and even a 5 or 6 year old who never saw marbles or a ball, might put them in their mouths. I try to include a zip lock bag, plastic screw top container, or drawstring bag for marbles. All plastic bags and wrappings- cellophane toy bags, price labels, are removed before boxes are shipped out of the country.
        Imagine hundreds of children, with no trash cans, tossing all this packaging on the ground, as, excitedly, they open their Shoebox gifts. Also, if the ones distributing boxes in any given area had to clean up packaging, it would take away time they have to spend with the children, showing them how to open a plastic container of craft beads or a sewing kit, how to inflate a soccer ball with the air pump that came with it, etc.
        Stray animals might eat plastic or a toddler might- even staples might be ingested. A zip lock or screw top or safe container is a really considerate item to
        include in a box with several pencils, erasers, pencil and wax
        crayons, Lego bricks, hair ties, small parts. A small cotton or fleece baby blanket, or quality bath towel, rolls tightly, and is an awesome gift. A family shares these multi purpose items- a clean safe place to lie a baby, a sleeping mat for children, a wrap around skirt for a child without any clothing at all, agood quality really absorbent( some are pretty, but not too absorbent) large towel, to dry on, use as a privacy curtain in crowded quarters. Some kind person sent beautifully decorated glass egg in a box- sadly it had to be removed as broken glass might ruin a boxes or cut recipients or others if glass is tossed on the ground. There are really valid reasons why some items are banned. But with so many other items, filling a box can be such fun!
        If you find yourself with extra items leftover from your box filling, pack them in a bag or cardboard box, label them Shoebox packing extras, or something similar, and hand them in with your filled box! At the box inspection center, boxes are not only checked for safety but to be sure they are adequately filled. A child receiving a box with a soccer ball and pump would probably be thrilled if that was all the box contained. But another child , opening a box beside them, that contained only a whistle from left over party favors( which are great to fill little empty spaces in boxes) and a washcloth, or a pencil and 1 crayon and several coloring pages might be happy, too. But I try to think of my children and fill boxes like I was packing theim the nicest gift I could get within my budget. I saw a few boxes under- packed . After all, the chance to send love and compassion to children who live in conditions we hope our children never have to experience( distributing boxes or care is different than living in underprivileged areas, full time! – and box recipients may have been born into extreme poverty, or are undergoing traumatic living circumstances due to flooding, earthquakes, war, etc. Extra leftover items sent with packed boxes allow the inspection center volunteers to finish filling boxes more adequately, and bring joy in the midst of heartache. And there are many untapped sources locally to help get fillers cheaply or free- and organizing a packing party with friends each bringing different items( 30 tee shirts from a $ 1 clearance rack, packs of mild bar soap, handmade toys/ clothing, flutes or paper cutout dolls( printed off Pinterest sites)

      • Seeds are not allowed; From OCC website: “Candy; toothpaste; gum; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; SEEDS; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans”

    • I am a year round volunteer for Operation Christmas Child and I know for a fact that candy in toothpaste for not allowed. Are you sure you’re going to the actual Operation Christmas Child webpage and not just looking at what other people are saying

    • I help sort shoeboxes every Fall, and nothing meant to be swallowed or deemed a liquid is allowed. So no candy of any sort, no teabags, no toothpaste, bubbles, snow globes, glitter glue, lotion, shampoo, vitamins, medicine of any sort.
      We also have to remove regular playing cards and dice – including if part of a game – this has been requested by receiving countries, because of the association with gambling.

      Something else that came up this year – anything packaged in pill bottles, like sewing kits, had to be removed. Such a clever idea, but not allowed.

      • Thank you for letting us know. Fishing kits in pill bottles was a great idea, but I guess they’ll need to go into a tin instead.

      • What would you suggest instead of a pill bottle to hold everything for a sewing kit or fishing kit together? I saw plastic bags also get removed.

  • i usually write one check for a collection of shoe boxes. Do i need to list the check number in all of the boxes?

    • I would not list the check number. I would simply give the check to the receiver at the pick-up point. At our church, we write the checks for Samaritan’s Purse out to the church, then the church gives one check for all of our boxes. However, you can go to the Samaritan’s Purse website and actually charge all of your boxes’ shipping to your credit card, print out the number of labels you paid for, and THEY WILL NOTIFY YOU OF THE BOXES’ DESTINATIONS IN YOUR EMAIL. It may be several months until they reach their destination, so you may wait quite a while, but we loved praying for the boxes safely reaching the children until we got the email.

  • Thanks for all the information.
    This is my 3rd year doing this through one of the clubs that I sponsor at the High School where I work.
    I see that scissors are allowed, so are pencil sharpeners allowed to be in the box?
    Another lady at my job asked if tooth powder would be allowed.

  • I am doing a project for school about operation christmas child what website would you recomend besides samaritans purse if already looked there

    • God knows where the box need to go and the child who needs it. Summer or winter clothes are good in all climates, as hot areas have cool nights or cold areas have some sun or layer clothes. How else could the only kiddo with no coat get the shoebox with a jacket, or the girl in Africa with AIDS get a love note from a kid in America who has AIDS, or the child with cardboard in his shoes get shoes, that fit him no less! (real stories) Trust God and stuff your box full of essentials and fun stuff. Collect all year at clearance sales and you can make a few extra boxes. Blessings are yours not just the kids! (PS I also sew terry cloth(towels) reusable menstrual pads for the 10-14 yr girls, wrapped in undies with safety pins and tied up with a ribbon!) It’s a blessing to serve with you.

  • I was wondering if beef and cheese sticks from slim Jim was okok..they are vacuum sealed and dried cranberries and blueberry mixtures..

    • I checked the videos on the shoebox site. Really let’s us see the living conditions of some of the child recipients. One shows boxes carried on back of an elephant up a treacherous mountain area… breakable items could ruin a box, liquids not allowed as they leak and ruin many boxes. Cooler night temps and no covering for families make sweatshirts or large towels thoughtful gifts. 2-3 items better than many easily broken things( like cheaply made cars broken on arrival are huge disappointments)

  • is it ok to open packages such as toy cars so won”t take as much space? Also if buy pkg of 6 pr socks: Is it ok to remove pkging. & put 1 pr socks in 6 diff. boxes? Is it ok to send mini staplers & desk sets which include push pins in it for older age groups?

    • It is a great idea to remove all packaging from toys and products. Many countries do not have a system for trash removal. Plus, when you remove packaging, you have more room for stuff to put in your box.

  • How do u get a operation Christmas child box I was hoping to get 3 this Christmas so I can give and put in for those kids in need so may u help?

  • Our church is fixing sewing kits with needles, scissors, thread and safety pins and I would think this was odd for someone who might like a fresh water well drilled where
    the whole camp could have fresh clean water. They also put in a small piece of fabric.
    Last year we sent small stuffed animals. school supplies, soap and small toys. They
    are wanting us to send 500 boxes and we are a senior citizen church who are limited
    on our finances. I think this is too much for our church. Last year they wanted us to fill 350 and we sent 150. I am for sending what we could afford and help with the items
    that would be best suited for the children. Reply.

    • Who is wanting you to send 500 boxes? Your church? This is all completely voluntary and there is no amount too great or too small for our Almighty God to use. Our small church sent 22 boxes last year, it was such a blessing to us all. It is not the amount of the offering but the heart felt devotion with which it is given, God bless you!!

    • Perhaps it may help you to think about it in terms of the box is a means of providing the gift of hope & Joy. I’ve been to work & live among the poorest of the poor, our NGO I helped start in HS eventually also began well drilling. Absolutely, wells are amazing, vital life saving contributions. Children shouldn’t die of diarrhea from dehydration in this day & age! But one well, is 5-6k depending upon how deep you need to go, w various other factors. What about the pipe & holes that need to be dug?

      There are a million & one ways to help. Everyone in this world can only do their best, & their part to make the world a better place. It all helps. Everyone contributing, doing their part really will help to change the world for the better! (I’m not talking some political fad, but real good in the world!) I’ve seen it, first hand!

      I met my husband on one of those trips. He was from there, & both parents worked. He was fortunate & often had one gift every Christmas. Shoes. As an Engineer he has done well, but continues to wear shoes beyond just a little hole. I buy new, & he saves those & continues wearing yet the shoe that can talk. He’s brought nice ones to repair shops. Often he reminds me of the seniors who lived through the great depression. I love to buy him “toys” for Christmas now. When asked Just now if he ever received anything else. No. Did he get a gift every year? He can’t recall. Was he sad over shoes or no gift? No, he didn’t really know better. (& I venture to bet he was super proud of them when he did get them!) But, I do know he LOVED baseball! Loved it, do you know what he & his friends played with? Pairs of his rolled up socks & a stick. He is Left handed & had to CARRY his own desk to school in Kindergarten all the way up bc they didn’t have Left handEd desks. These things, trivial to you, will be heartwarming, comforting & helpful. They will mean the world to children worse off than he!

      They are thought of, the world cares. That is lasting & why we are excited to participate this year. Is education important? Many of these countries public schools wear uniforms. Imagine if they can’t repair or replace it? Those sewing kits will come in handy! & They may grow up to change the world themselves! There is always a ripple effect, never underestimate the power of hope!

  • This year in boxes I’ll be packing for girls 10-14, I plan to include little sewing kits. They will include needles, straight and safety pins, mini spools of asst. thread and folding scissors. Should I also include some fabric in the boxes? Of course I’ll include some toys and, personal care items as well as school supplies!

    • If you pray about this and are moved to send fabric, then do so. Just think what it might become. A headwrap, a skirt, a patch so someone can go to school, a pocket, a bag to carry school supplies, a blanket for a new brother, a shawl for grandfather, the possibilities are endless. God bless.

      • I’m including 1.5 yards of a print fabric and 1 yard of a coordinating solid fabric. I wanted to include enough fabric to be useful for whatever is chosen to be made. In boxes for boys aged 10 to 14, I’m including a hammer, screwdrivers, wrench, measuring tape, and asst. nails & screws. I’m trying to be somewhat practical with the “wow” portion of the gift.
        Jennifer

  • This is my family’s first time to participate. How do we find out who collects the boxes in our area? Are we responsible to help with the shipping expenses of the boxes?

    • Yes, it is helpful to leave a check for $9.00 to Samaritan’s Purse right on top of the box contents. It will be removed at the processing center. Or you can go online and pay there and “follow your box”

  • Is powdered toothpaste allowed? I’m guessing traditional paste is not because it can explode during shipping…

  • Are playing cards allowed in the shoeboxes? One place said they were removed but cards like Old Maid, Uno, and Crazy 8 were allowed.

    • It’s unlikely the children will know how to play these games and probably won’t be able to read instructions in English so playing cards may not be a good idea.

      • Playing cards ARE ALLOWED in the shoe boxes. Personal preference however. I include them in my boxes.

  • The list on this page needs updated.

    For what to put in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox go to samaritanspurse.org and click on Operation Christmas Child. You will find everything you to need to pack a shoebox along with a list of suggestions.

    Basically anything with an expiration date (ex. candy, toothpaste, food & etc.) are not allowed any longer.

  • A small hand towel (that the kid will use as a bath towel) is a very useful item to include, and very poorly mentioned on OCC lists.

    • Pads are better. Without proper instructions for tampons, they could result in toxic shock and/or death. Even if the English instructions are included, the girls receiving the tampons might speak and read a different language.

    • I would think pads might be a better idea as most young girls (even in the states) are uncomfortable using tampons. And including the manufacturer’s picture instructions for how to use the pads would be useful as they many not have seen them before.

    • they actually make washable pads. You can actually order them from amazon. There is also a pattern make your own if you can sew.
      /Users/Carol.Alberto/OneDrive/Documents/OCC/Pads for girls/Cloth-Pads-Instruction-Cards.pdf/
      Users/Carol.Alberto/OneDrive/Documents/OCC/Pads for girls/How-to-Make-Cloth-Pads-for-OCC-Shoeboes.pdf

  • Some things I always try to include in our OCC boxes:

    A tool kit. Walmart has “mini” tools that are still sturdy and useful such as hammers, screwdriver, levels, pliers, and measuring tape.
    T-shirts and sweat pants.
    A rain poncho.
    Collapsible cups/bowls.
    Flashlight that recharges by hand winding instead of with batteries. Many of these children will not have reliable electricity in their homes and this would be a gift for the entire family to appreciate.
    School supplies. I especially like to include multi-colored Sharpies for older children as these could be used for school, artistic expression, or simply to label things.
    Shoes in the largest average size for that age range – sandals or canvas tennis shoes.
    A small fleece blanket.
    Bungee ties or rubber bands.
    Construction trucks with moving scoops and dumpers for imaginative play – just add dirt.
    One of those lay-flat plastic water canteens with a carabiner attached.
    Little plastic bath toys shaped like animals. These are soft but sturdy, colorful, often have a fun squirter built in, and aren’t just for in the bath.
    A deflated soccer ball with hand pump. This is on the Samaratin’s Purse list and is such a great idea. Soccer is popular world-wide and a soccer ball is a durable toy that will provide hours of fun for an entire community.
    A drawstring backpack.
    Scissors.
    Pack the whole thing in a plastic box instead of a shoe box. This becomes another gift and think of all the uses it could be put to.

    I try to think of things that could be used by the whole family, that could have multiple uses, and that will be understood intuitively across cultures and without instructions.

  • Somewhere I read that tools for the older boys would be a suitable gift to include. We have packed a hammer, pliers and 2 screw drivers for our15-year-old boy. I just wanted to check to be sure this is appropriate.

  • Hie everyone, im writting you from the Southern part of Africa. I just want to say thank you so much for the good job you are doing. In case some of you where wondering where they go, how do they feel opening the boxes etc. My children received a box each, and the happiness they have is something i wouldhave never imagined. They are over the moon,. Then i saw a tape on the box written the Samaritan purse. I cld not resist but look more about the org on the internet.

    I have been doing the Christmas shoe box with my children each year. Something that i have been doing for some years now. I have been trying to teach them to be able to share the little we have with the needy but i dont think it realy made any sense to them until today. After seeing that they wer so happy and excited i had to remind them that what ever they are feeling now is exaclty how other children feel when they are opening boxes from them.
    Later the eldest came to me and said “i will never stop making the sboeboxes for the orphans”

    So thank you very much everyone. Dont get tired of soing good. Your work have put a lot of smiles in different coners of the world. I just thought i shld take this opportunity to express my gratitude.

  • Hello and God Bless All the Children Around The World. My question is about the Glow In The Dark items. Bracelets, Headbands, and Glow Bounce Balls. They are FUN yet are they allowed in the shoe boxes for the older Children? Your reply appreciated. Thank You!

    • a post I saw said superhero might look scary to children never exposed to that kind of thing…..something that never occurred to me.

  • What about? Glow In The Dark items. Bracelets, Headbands, and Glow Bounce Balls? Construction trucks with moving scoops and dumpers for imaginative play, but no dirt added, right.
    What is the highest age of these kids?

    this email address is borrowed with permission

  • I made sewing kits with bigger, sharp scissors, someone here told me that no sharp scissors can be placed in the boxes, I don’t want to put the kits in the boxes if they will be taken out. Can anyone tell me if they are allowed. Carol

    • Sissors are allowed. We put small children’s scissors in the younger boxes and full size scissors in the older girls boxes.

  • For next year I was thinking of a “Luci “ solar light. Would that be ok? I didn’t know what kind of battery it had in it. Hopefully it’s not banned.

  • I have purchased small remote controlled cars with additional batteries.
    Would they be acceptable? Please say “Yes”. Many of the boys would have fun with them. They are recommended for ages 3 and up but I would designate for ages 5-9.

  • Could you be so kind to explain why the website says “no toy guns”; meanwhile, some people put Nerf gun in the box and went through? I always thought only squirt gun is the only gun allow. If so, please ask OCC to be more specific on their website. Thank you for answering this question.

  • I have read many websites on this topic and the best idea I ever got and what we do every year is a soccer ball. (deflated ball and we include a pump) This can entertain a whole group of kids not just one and it is a universal toy that you don’t have to worry is not culturally appropriate. We also include a hand crank solar powered flash light, a t-shirt and a few other smaller bits for the age range we chose.

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