Seventeen years ago Samaritan's Purse started a ministry called "Operation Christmas Child" the idea was to pack a shoebox with simple gifts; personal care items and school supplies and give those shoeboxes to hurting and needy children all over the world with the message of the good news of God's love for them. That first year my son was a baby and we did one box. The 2nd year I had 2 kids so we did two boxes. As our family grew we did more boxes to correspond with each child till one day those kids said "mom lets do more!" So we did 5 boxes. Then one year one of the kids said "Ya know mom, this would be great for shoeboxes, we should save stuff all year round so we can do more." That year we did 22 boxes. The next year I got my church involved, we did 30 something boxes the first year. The following year I had another gal start saving stuff all year round and we filled 70 something. The numbers kept growing till last year we did 276 boxes! And still...
Our numbers kept growing.
As our numbers grew I needed to find creative ways to support our projects. Being part of the crafting community I looked there for help. Scrapbook Expo allowed us to run their baggage check and collect supplies and have raffle tickets for a gift basket from At the Blue Barn and a new "Scrap-n-Easel" from Contain ya crafts. Many of my scrapbooking friends came out to help at the expo as well. Local crafters came out to an event again donating supplies for boxes and buying raffle tickets for another fabulous gift basket. Plus companies such as Unibind, Creative Options, Epiphany Crafts, Craftwell, Xyron, Fiskateers, Hydrangea Hippo, Contain Ya Crafts, Faithfully Yours, MemoryWorks consultant Kemi Foresteri, Close to My Heart Consultant Lori Brown, October Afternoon and more donated make and take items, door prizes, and goodie bag items to the event! All these events (and then some) helped gather not only supplies but funds to purchase supplies and help offset the cost of shipping shoeboxes.
It's no secret, I love doing shoeboxes. It's such a simple way to reach out. Things we take for granted like soap and a toothbrush are some of the kids favorite gifts to receive and for some kids this is the first present they have every received in their lives! I also love shoeboxes because of what it allows me to do within my community. When someone decides to be a missionary to another country. They start raising support, gathering their supplies etc. They get sent on their trip and we hear about it when they get back. With coordinating shoeboxes I get a chance to encourage my church, family and friends to be missionaries right where they are at!
It's incredible to be able to help kids not just my kids or my church kids, but my nephews, and friends kids and even other kids in the community to take that step to look beyond themselves to reach out to others. It's a privilege to be able to hear "wow this was so much fun...I love helping, I can't wait to do it next year." and "I'm so glad I came, knowing that one more child gets a present cause of what I did is AWESOME!"
Well I can spill the beans! This year we packed 351 shoeboxes!!! Thank you again to everyone that helped make this possible!!!