17 NOV 2014 :: Shoebox Collection Week Begins!

I went to the Samaritan's Purse website over the weekend and watched the longest video that I could find...then I downloaded it and hope to watch it again through the coming year.  It makes me cry to see all these children getting simple little boxes of toys and clothes and things that some poor children in very poor areas don't get, like toothbrushes and toothpaste.

When I first started making boxes to donate, I thought it was ridiculous to put hygiene items in there, or a lot of school supplies.  Christmas and kids are about toys, art and craft supplies, education aids, stuffed animals and dolls.  Later, I discovered how deep their poverty goes and how hard it is to get things we take for granted.

  • I try to fill my boxes with as many small and sturdy toys as I can, including one main toy, like a doll or stuffed toy.
  • Because they are so much more important than I realized, I add a smaller tube of toothpaste and a packaged toothbrush. The seem to like travel tissues. You can't put liquids of any kind into the boxes, so no shampoo or sanitary gel. I try to add a washcloth as a small item.
  • School supplies are a lot like hygiene products for me. I put in a few small things that can be used for many things, and might be fun.  Pencil sharpeners are a learning curve.  The need the hand-held kind, no electric items, just in case the box goes to a very rural area. Pencils can be purchase in singles and small packages. For paper, I try to find a little pocket book that can be for notes or art or school. I always try to find solar calculators for the age group...they have huge ones for young kids, and regular ones for the older children.
  • I am really big on art and craft supplies. What goes in depends on what I can find. You can find little art kits at a lot of stores, small packages of sidewalk chalk are great, art pencils can be for writing or making pictures, crayons are available for toddlers to teens.
  • If there is any room left, I try to fill it with the hard candy that is allowed when securely packed.
These boxes are delivered all year long...some go to places that can only be reached by rivers or mountain trails -- very far away. They can't contain anything that might leak, explode, or melt. Because so many countries are involved in war, no toy weapons are allowed. The boxes are screened for customs, so these items are removed. I suppose, if a box has empty spaces because of forbidden items, it will be filled again with items available at the distribution centers. This is a guess, I don't really know.  I try to pack my boxes carefully so they can hold as much as I can put in them and not be "violated" by staff changes.  :-)

It has long been a goal of mine to collect items for these boxes all year long.  There are great sales throughout the year. Sometimes you can find wonderful items at Valentine's Day, Resurrection Sunday, Fourth of July, Back to School, and other major holidays and selling events.  It spreads the expense out, too.  If you have a storage space, you can have boxes ready for the different age groups. What doesn't go with Samaritan's Purse might go perfect for Toys for Tots, Salvation Army Giving Trees, and other programs. It depends on what your favorite charities are.

I hope you are able to share at least one Shoebox filled with gifts this year.  If you order the label online, I think they send you emails telling you where that box is being shipped as it goes through the process. I believe you get a UPC code, which they scan for processing.

You have until the 24th to take it to a collection location, but you can mail them to the main office all year.  Postage might be a problem if you do that, but it is an available option.  :-)

I don't know if they need volunteers still... you can find all that at the website.

Make sure you find the videos and watch them... at least one of them.