WFMW: A Shoebox Tip

My tip for an empty shoebox: fill it with toys, toothpaste, and tiny things and give it to a child for Christmas!

It’s easy! Follow these simple steps:

HOW TO PACK A SHOE BOX (from Operation Christmas Child)


Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift.


Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Print out the appropriate boy/girl label by downloading the artwork to the right. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.


Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child. Use the gift ideas provided on the bottom of this page.


Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can give online by using our EZGIVE option, or you can write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, please make one combined donation.


Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop off at the Collection Center nearest youduring our collection week November 15 – 22.

Operation Christmas Child delivers thousands and thousands of filled shoeboxes at Christmas to underprivileged children all over the world.

It’s a wonderful idea to do with your children! It works for us!

Have you ever participated?


  1. 3


    We work on these all year long and usually have 12-15 boxes ready by the collection date. It’s something my children love to participate in as well.

  2. 4


    Thanks for a wonderful idea to share with my family this Christmas. I just looked up our zip code and we have 3 drop off centers close by. Thanks for this great suggestion. Thanks for hosting again too.

  3. 9


    I love Operation Christmas Child!

    Did you know that if you use the online giving option and supply your email address, you can print a box label with a barcode, then get an email telling you what country your package was delivered to?

    And…when I was in Gabon, Africa, a couple months ago, I saw a village church where shoeboxes had been distributed months before. One of the things I love about this program is that they partner with local churches and the shoeboxes come with discipleship kits, so the impact of a shoebox gift can be lasting. At the church we attended, it wouldn’t be odd to have 10-15 adults, and 50-100 kids – all because of the ministry of Operation Christmas Child.

  4. 10

    Lorie says

    We participate every year! And this year we’ll being doing two. One for my son and one for my daughter. I’ve already started collecting stuff to put into them.

  5. 11


    We LOVE participating in Operation Christmas Child! It’s a family tradition now! We always pick 2 girls–same ages as our girls. It always makes me cry when each girl closes her shoebox, and prays for “her girl.” We pray for those girls during the whole Christmas season.

    Oh!! I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE to buy the $1 PLASTIC shoe boxes!!! I have an acquaintance who got to go with Operation Christmas Child one year, and she said the women (she visited) use the plastic shoeboxes to help carry water on their heads! She also said to ALWAYS wrap your boxes–the children (and moms) decorate their walls with the pretty Christmas paper.

    Typing all of this makes me teary, too. Gosh, we just have SO MUCH here. And this is one EASY way we can share our wealth, and most importantly, our LOVE with others.

    (Sorry for all the all caps…I just can’t help it with this subject! :-)

  6. 12


    I am so glad you reminded up of the boxes!! I used to do this all the time when our boys were younger and will have to find a church who is taking boxes!

  7. 13


    YAY! Operation Christmas Child is one of my fave things about Christmas. Hubby and I just love preparing the boxes as we dont have any little ones of our own just yet. It’s wonderful to be able to share the love of Jesus with a little one.

  8. 15


    LOVE Operation Christmas Child! It is part of our Christmas season traditions. I have my shoeboxes ready and will keep filling them little by little until the mail date. Thanks for helping other people learn about this opportunity to give.

  9. 16


    Our church does these also in gallon ziploc bags that go directly to a small village in Nicaragua where we have sent several mission teams over the years. Great tool to say God cares!

  10. 17


    Thank you for the wonderful idea and links Kristen! My daughter is at the perfect age to help me collect items and donate them to another child in need.

  11. 22


    Our church homeschool group is aiming to make 100 boxes this year. I found flip flops on sale at Dollar General for 25 cents a pair and bought them out. I also have a friend who is currently a missionary in Ecuador and she was there for shoebox delivery in her community last year. She says that, hands down, the most loved items in the shoe boxes were stuffed animals like beanie babies. Every child that got a stuffed animal held it and hugged it ALL day long. she also said that REAL deal Matchbox cars are a big hit. Many countries have the cheaper small cars, but the Matchbox cars are a rare and beloved treat.

  12. 23


    Yes! When we were dealing with infertility, it was a joy to fill a box and bless a child. I always seemed to choose to fill a box for a boy. And now that I have my son, I filled another BOY box! I love picking out all of the neat things and imagine them going through their Christmas presents. I hope the Sprit moves in their lives so that we meet these kiddos in heaven one day.

  13. 24


    This is something I have been doing for about 10 years now, and it has become a super special way for my children to give to other children. We show them the photos of children receiving shoeboxes to help them visualize just what they are doing for others who have less. It is simply wonderful!

  14. 25


    My family has been participating with OCC for several years now. My kids just love going and picking out fun things to put in the box along with basic necessities. We always use the plastic sterilite/rubbermaid type boxes though. That way they have a box to use for something else.

  15. 26

    Kris says

    I have never participated but think it sounds great. I will post the info at my office and see if I can gain interest as well. Does anyone have any unique ideas of things to include?

  16. 29


    This will be our first year filling a shoe box. The other years I always missed the dates to donate. But this year its on the calendar. My daughter & I are so excited to pick out all the fun surprises we are going to fill ours with.

  17. 30


    I just ran across your blog and love it!

    I’ve never filled a shoebox before, but my university campus does an OCC drive every year and I think I’m going to use your post as inspiration to DO it this year instead of just THINKING I should/I would like to do it. Thanks for the nudge. :)

  18. 31

    KarenDye says

    Yes! I love Operation Christmas Child! It so easy for my kids to get the gimmies during the holidays. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to get them focused on others. Clair Boone with is posting some great tips about how to pack a shoe box on a budget.

  19. 32


    Thanks for posting about Operation Christmas Child! I did it every year in college with my sorority, but I had forgotten about it until now. I’m going to start on my box this weekend!

  20. 33


    We do shoe boxes every year, our school does missions trips with Samaritan’s Purse every second year to distribute shoe boxes (I get great tips on what to put in them). One thing I’ve learned is to please don’t forget the 10-14 year olds, they have the least amount of boxes each year!

  21. 34


    Hurray for Operation Christmas Child. I went down to the processing plant in Charlotte my senior year in college with a group of other students … we had a blast volunteering for two days. I am definitely planning on filling a box or two this year.

  22. 36


    I love Operation Christmas Child! I love that you can really involve your children in this project and use it as a teaching tool. Thanks for sharing for others!

  23. 37


    our church participates in Operation Christmas Child inal drop station. It is very easy to get the whole family involved we often make up more than one box

  24. 38


    Our church also participates. We just filled 3 boxes yesterday. My kids LOVE choosing the items for “their” child. We do one for each kid and do the same gender/age as each of our kids so that we have a gauge for size and what they like.

  25. 39


    WOW! Great idea!!! We used to have a secret santa tree in town that we picked from but they discontinued that.

    We don’t have a drop off near us but I’ll see what I can make happen via the mail system. What fun!

  26. 40


    We have done that in the past, it’s such a great thing. Thanks for the reminder, I swear that thing always sneaks up on me since it needs to be done so early.

    Thanks for hosting.

  27. 41


    Oh my goodness!!! The end of the year does indeed draw nigh!!! SHoeboxes are an indicator of all things Christmassy in our house… it is the start of the season for us and I can’t believe it is time to start thinking about them again – so soon!!!

  28. 42

    Anna says

    We love doing shoeboxes!! Infact tomorrow we are heading to Wal-Mart to get the containers! And we might go through the toy section… :) It’s so much fun!

  29. 43


    Thanks for posting the links Kristen…I’ve tried to participate in this project every year possible and this year for sure. Sure wish I could be joining you for your conference…maybe next year 😉

  30. 45

    Rachel says

    I don’t know what happened to my comment, but my church has been doing this for a few years now. The first year, a kid’s Sunday School class collected stuff in October and November until the packing party. We collected around 50(?) boxes. The next year, they wanted to DOUBLE the number of boxes to 100. The whole church got involved collecting one item a month (letters for the children one month, toothbrushes/toothpaste another, girl’s and boy’s toys in May and June in honor of Mother’s and Father’s day, respectively), etc. We did it! This year the challenge was to DOUBLE it AGAIN to 300 boxes. Our little church is doing it! We need a few more items, and we have had some fundraisers to collect shipping money. It has been wonderful!!

  31. 46


    I love the idea of OCC, and I think it would be a fabulous experience for my children. However, with our limited funds, the extra donation required is cost-prohibitive for us (and I’m guessing other families too.) Wish there were other like projects that didn’t require an extra cash donation!

    • 46.1

      Jamie says

      Robbie, maybe you can partner with other families you know and do boxes together and share the shipping costs. I know we have some older adults in our church who are willing to help with postage, but dont have the time or energy to pack a box.

  32. 48


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