Operation CHRISTmas Child- helpful info for y'all!


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Mish, that's wonderful. I was thinking of volunteering some. I know I have some questions I'm curious about, but I've got some personal stuff going on and can't concentrate. I'll ask later if and when I can think straight.


This world is not my home!
I recently returned from Atlanta, GA; this is one of the main processing centers of Samaritan's Purse for "Operation Christmas Child". I am blessed to be able to attend/volunteer each year with my Mama (77yrs old); we receive such joy serving God in this gospel outreach program + it gives me the chance to spend 3 days with Mama one-on-one AND dh/sons get to revel in their 'guy-ness'!:shooting2:viking:cool2:drum:nunchucks:pizza:popcorn:longshot:sunning:spork:tunez:wild:calvin:campfire:blindmice:whoopdeedo:sling:salute:mazy:super......

I'm one of the OCC 'Point of Contact' Rep. @ my local church; every year I return from Atlanta with pages of notes with: important info|+| needs/concerns for OCC |+| helpful suggestions |+| ideas to encourage more local church participation, etc. For that reason, I wanted to share with y'all some of the info I garnered that I felt was the most important/vital.
  • Boxes for "Boy 10-14" are chosen the least from the 6 possible gender & age groups available. This means that when the local volunteers in all these various countries begin to organize their distribution events, a LOT of boys (10-14 yrs. old) are not invited due to the simple fact that there is a severe shortage in this area. I spoke to a wonderful woman who has traveled with Franklin Graham to a few foreign countries and she explained this 'concern/issue' from first-hand experience. Trust me, I had tears cascading my cheeks...but it also served as a motivator to share this info with the hopes that 'we' (Christians) could alter this under-represented group of boys in a positive, helpful manner.

  • OCC has made a few changes in their "rules' regarding what is allowable to include in the shoeboxes:
  • ~ Pokémon toys/pencils/notebooks/T-shirts, etc. are NOW allowed.
  • ~ Tootsie Rolls (candy) is also now permissible to include.
  • ~ Fruit Roll-ups/ Fruit Chews are NOT allowed, as it is classified as actual "fruit" [believe it or not! :\ ]
Sorry all~ I need to help dh run a few errands, so I will finish sharing this info in a second post. I fear 'this' post might disappear within cyber-world if I leave it on my laptop for a couple hours! ???

~be back soon! :) , Mish:heythere


This world is not my home!
:zipitThis is a continuation of Post #1:
~the next 2 main issues are below~

[As I said earlier~] *Every year I volunteer @ the processing centers, I learn more about OCC and the challenges they face to spread the Gospel message across the globe- one shoebox at a time.

[1] - The cost of shipping increases every year; OCC has only once increased their suggested shipping cost per box. It was originally $5, then increased to $7 quite a few years ago. As of last week and per their calculations, OCC was receiving about $4 per box.
~ Samaritan's Purse uses a specifically measured box for shipping out the shoeboxes. Based on what I was told, it appears that OCC is charged a flat-rate for each of these large boxes (vice by weight).

Each and every box is estimated to hold a minimum of 15 shoeboxes, regardless of the actual amount [#] that is contained in each Shipping box. While this may not "seem" important, it is truly critical not only for financial reasons but more importantly, it impacts the number of children that receive the opportunity to hear the Gospel message!! IMO, that is a huge issue!

Now.. the critical info lies in the number of shoeboxes that we can 'stuff' into that large One-size-only shipping box. Since many shoeboxes are different sizes and shapes, OCC places an "Estimated Shoebox # as |15|, for ALL the Shipping boxes. Pretend for a moment that ALL the shoeboxes were the official red/green OCC logo shoeboxes. IF that were true, we could place *23* shoeboxes inside ONE Shipping box!!! Now get ready for the statistic that left me speechless::speechless
~ If the volunteers were able to place just ONE additional shoebox within each Shipping box, it would save OCC just shy of $300 thousand dollars!! in shipping charges!!:suprized

[2] The next impact of being able to include more than just 15 shoeboxes per Shipping box is the number of children receiving the Gospel message. When the OCC Shipping boxes arrive in a village [to provide you an example], the local Pastor and/or leadership members make an accounting of the number of Shipping boxes labeled under:

  • Girl~ Age 2-5
  • Girl~ Age 6-9
  • Girl~ Age 10-14
  • Boy~ Age 2-5
  • Boy~ Age 6-9
  • Boy~ Age 10-14
For simplicity, let us say that this village received ONE box for each age group and gender listed above. The "official" estimate is always 15 shoeboxes per one Shipping box; thus the Pastor will say that of ALL the precious little munchkins lined-up with hopeful hearts, the church can allow [inside] 45 girls and 45 boys...and that's it. I've no idea whatsoever HOW they decide which children are chosen and those who are NOT...but I DO know it breaks my heart as I visualize the sad, confused and empty faces of those left outside.:lonely:mope

But... if the volunteers [in the United States] are able to fit MORE than 15 shoeboxes in that Shipping box, the church helpers are able to come back outside and invite more children to receive one of those special little shoeboxes packed with a lot of love and prayers!

So...what CAN we do to help in this particular situation?:scratch

[1]~ We could "adopt" a Shipping Box. This covers the shipping charges that are presently not being covered as many people simply cannot afford to pack a shoebox AND include the $7 for shipping costs.

[2]~ We could pack a shoebox using the standard OCC red/green logo shoebox instead of other boxes that take up more storage space, leading to a smaller number of shoeboxes that fit within that single-size Shipping box.

I have a few other items for your consideration, however~ at this point I think all of you have endured your maximum limit of "Mish Commentary" for one day!:gaah

I sincerely appreciate you for taking the time to read this long post! ~Mish:typing



Well-Known Member
Greetings Mish! :hug

This was my experience as well at the Atlanta Processing Center. I was part of the crew scanning & packing the shoeboxes and I would wait for a long time because all the boxes were going for the girls. The cartons that filled up the most for the boys was ages 5-9. The 2-4 and 10-14 sat for a long time before reaching 15 boxes, with the latter filling up the least as you said.

You know, I bet most of those items people think only work for boys 5-9's will also be joyfully received by boys 10-14.

We seemed to get a lot more plastic containers! We also got quite a few huge boxes that were very hard to pack. I heard that Samaritan's Purse is working on trying to produce their own plastic containers but I don't know when or if this will happen. At any rate, you are absolutely right - 15 regular OCC shoeboxes fit beautifully into the carton and you even have enough room left over for a few more. It was sometimes a struggle to get a minimum of 15 boxes in with all those plastic containers, some of which had bulky handles that took up precious inches. Some of the items in those huge containers could have been used to fill up a regular shoebox and ended up being two boxes instead of one!

I also worked a bit going through boxes to look for and pull out donations. Good grief. I don't know about other lines but I didn't find any at all in the boxes I checked. There were a fair number of pre-paid labels (those who pay online to track their boxes) but most weren't and most had no donation/shipping cost.

I also will recommend to folks to please make sure they fill up their shoeboxes. Some were woefully half full. We have fillers on the line to put in the boxes, toothbrushes and t-shirts, etc. But I was surprised by some of the "skimpy" boxes.

***One thing they tell us is - "One village, one child, one shoebox." In other words, the box you pack will be the only box that child will ever get. Maybe the only present they ever had. Make it count!***

What I learned will impact what I pack next year, too. I will concentrate on the boys ages 2-4 and 10-12. I always stuff my boxes and add my donation but I will be extra sure to put in the best items I can for them.

Another option is to Build a Shoebox online. If you pay the small fee, you can pick out some nice items from a list, and they fill in the rest. This can be done at any time during the year.

Please pass along to all you know who pack shoeboxes about using the OCC standard size shoeboxes and please add boxes for those boys! If you pack for a church, order your boxes online and get them early to pass out with the instructions. Educate your church about how the boxes are cartoned.

PS - My understanding is that NO candy and NO toothpaste will be allowed starting next year. I will keep checking the updates. We allowed chewy candy through in the boxes in our line.
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Well-Known Member
I don't know how I missed these posts, but thank you both for this fascinating and helpful info! I'm happy to say I packed several boys' 10-14 boxes in the past two years. However, I think this year I'll do them exclusively along with a couple boys' 2-4. I'll also use the OCC shoeboxes. I'm currently knitting hats as fillers and will knit more boys' hats. I was shocked to learn so many boxes aren't filled up, but I'd like to hope people are doing the best they can.

Mish, you said you had a few more items to mention. I'd be very interested in hearing them.


This world is not my home!
Mish, you said you had a few more items to mention. I'd be very interested in hearing them.

Thanks for asking, Kerbluey! Unfortunately, by the time Blue Regard and I shared our info, OCC Collection time had already ended for the 2016 outreach. Come this October, I'll try to remember to 'bump' this thread as it will be more applicable & helpful before the 2017 'season' begins.

:glasses... So, let me look for my OCC binder... OK...here it is:

The other info I wanted to share is specifically geared for the most underrepresented gender/age group:

BOYS 10-14 :jeep ~and Ideas for what to include in the box

[1] fishing line [2] bobbers [3] hammer [4] screwdrivers [5] heavy-duty string

[6] fishing lures [7] nails [8] tools [9] t-shirts* [10] M-XL aquarium nets

[11] socks [12] rulers [13] hats/visors [14] 1st Aid Kit [15] sunglasses...& flashlights


* I was told that the boys love bright colors, with regard to Idea #9 {t-shirts}

Y'all might not realize this, but TOOLS:spork are the #1 most appreciated & used item for the boys in this age group! And tools are NOT considered 'dangerous' [meaning: tools/tool kits are not removed from any box! Many people were unaware of this fact]; sure~ they weigh a lot but OCC pays a flat fee on all their XL Shipping Boxes, so more weight does not affect the costs in any way.

Anything to do with fishing is truly a Godsend as these tools are crucial for providing food within their families.

Another idea {for the girls, this time! Age 10-14} is to include:knitting sewing kits:knitting2; very useful and helpful!

This is {hopefully} an ongoing discussion, one that grows from sharing our ideas and the items we place within these special boxes. Each box is an opportunity to share the Gospel, the love of Jesus and the hope for a new life centered & committed to Christ alone! And thanks be to God, for we know that His Word will never return void! :wooo

:fish I hope the additional info/ideas can be of help!

Your sister-in-Christ, Mish :wave



Worships Him
Thanks Mish! I've been eyeing some sales thinking of stocking up for next year. Now I know what to look for.

It really makes sense to send useful tools, sewing kits, fishing supplies. They need practical help more than they need toys.


This world is not my home!
:typing And here I go again :heythere... ... ...

:glasses I completely forgot a truly important piece of information to share with y'all: :oops :imsorry

It is about a critical aspect of OCC, titled- :lightbulb FILLERS :lightbulb

Kerbluey mentioned in her post above:

I'm currently knitting hats as fillers and will knit more boys' hats.

This is something to consider as a personal ministry service!

This is another area in which to share ideas amongst each other, or anyone reading these threads.

Fillers are items donated from individuals||churches||companies & corporations||stores||& many varied groups.

FILLERS are donated items used when we encounter shoeboxes that need more items in order to FILL them up.
Each shoebox represents the love of Christ; FILLERS are many times the difference between a confused or thrilled little child. Personally, I became slightly obsessed :redface {as an inspector} with making sure every box I sent on to the "Packing Taper" was filled to the brim! :whistling2

The following are examples of FILLERS I have personally seen in my work with OCC:

1. hand-sewn clothing
2. hand-knitted hats/mittens/scarves {this is what Kerbluey does :hug}
3. softcover books
4. toothbrushes
5. sandals
6. belts
7. Happy Meal toys from any Fast Food companies
8. soap
9. pencils/erasers/paper
10. hair combs

Large companies have also donated:

1. Tye has donated Beanie Babies [2015]
2. The Duck Dynasty Family donated a variety of items related to their TV show {mirrors/small plastic cups} [2015]
3. A Christian publisher donated thousands of softcover Bibles {in English} [2016]
4. Proctor & Gamble donated thousands of toothbrushes [2016]
5. Dial donated thousands of individually wrapped bars of soap [2014]
6. ? company donated hundreds of "Croc-like" sandals [2014]

A few things my mother and I have collected is:
  • Beanie Babies
  • Happy Meal Toys
  • Individual "purse-size" packs of tissue/Kleenex
  • socks for both genders
  • decks of cards
  • Stuffed animals of the proper size for shoeboxes

IF you feel a desire to begin collecting items to donate as FILLERS, label your bags/boxes with "OCC Fillers" and bring them to any OCC collection location. Most churches are Collection locations, or check online for Collection locations nearest you. Your fillers WILL be used, appreciated and celebrated by those desperate for Fillers when helping at OCC AND the child that receives a happy, filled shoebox! The objective is simple: To spread and share the Gospel of Christ throughout the world, one child at a time!:hug

YSIC, Mish:heythere



Looking Up
I read somewhere here at RF that some people help with 'fillers' for the Christmas boxes. I wanted to sew something that was needed and after looking around I came across pillowcase dresses. There were tons of patterns and tutorials and instructions to make them out of fabric rather than a pillowcase. So I decided to try it and have started making the little dresses. I'll have to find out where to donate them but I know that my city has a drop off around November. For me this year just making dresses will work out better than filling individual boxes.

The website did suggest pillowcase dresses in different sizes.

I sure hope they'll need the dresses. If not, I came across another charity through Nancy Zieman (she's a well known sewing tutor) that sends the dresses to Africa. I'm not sure if it's a Christian charity and so I'd rather donate to a Christian charity if possible.

These are some samples of other people's creations. I think they're really cute!




Well-Known Member
Lily, those are adorable! What a brilliant idea for fillers! Im going to show them to my mom in case she's interested.

I'm not doing boxes this year. I'm donating fillers instead. I've got mountains of soft stuffed toys I got at the thrift store for 25-50 cents each. All are like new and clean, although I do run them through the wash. I knit hats. I found new boys' croc style shoes in fun colors at the thrift store and filled my cart. A store was having a clearance on matchbox cars. All kinds of things have made it into my filler boxes. I like this much better than doing boxes. :)


Well-Known Member
I'm bumping this thread because it's that time of year. I'm not doing shoeboxes this year. Instead I've been collecting filler items all year. I'll have several large boxes' worth of croc-type shoes, jump ropes, hats, and stuffed toys along with misc items. I tried to limit my items to boys, but there are lots of girl things as well. My thrift store regularly sells off like new stuffed toys for .25 each. I buy them up, wash, and they're ready!


Well-Known Member
I read a very sweet story online recently about a girl who received one of these boxes as a child. The family who sent it had a son in the same age range as the girl, and included in the box were his picture and a note from the family. As a young adult, she looked the young man up on social media to thank him, because the box had meant so much to her. Eventually they met in person, and now they're married.


Looking Up
I took my completed pillowcase dresses to the donation drop site today and it was such a positive experience. Because I had no one to talk to locally about the actual need for the dresses I did get a bit of cold feet and started doubting my efforts. I had scaled back my sewing because I was so unsure.

That all went away when I walked in the door. I was greeted so warmly and the dresses were very appreciated. It made me wish that I'd made many more. The lady in charge was so pleased that she offered to supply me with some fabric for the coming year since she had a lot of it. Also, another lady heard us talking and offered some fabric too! That will help so much because it can get costly to make the dresses after awhile. I can supply a certain amount but with others donating fabric, it will really ease my ability to accomplish more.

The first lady also is in planning to bring in volunteers to work our city throughout the year, to build up the charity. I expressed interest so she will be contacting me to do some possible volunteer work.

I believe this is an answer to prayer. I knew as soon as both ladies offered fabric, that our Lord, was letting me know to get that machine of mine to humming.

In the midst of so much doom and gloom in the world this was a very big bright spot in my life today. What a blessing I received by giving. What a great lesson and reminder it was.
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Worships Him
Wow Lily, those confirmations about the fabric are fantastic! A neighbor works at a fabric store and told me that they donate fabric to a lady who sews weighted blankets for trauma victims.

My church took our boxes to the main center today & I simply loved filling boxes for boys aged 10-14 with fishing gear, tools, small nerd footballs, flashlights, bright t-shirts, etc. I followed Mish's list & it was fun!!