We’re not one to rush things, but the countdown to Christmas is almost here. With that in mind, we thought we’d share a fun way your church or group could share the Good News of Jesus Christ this holiday season, even while social distancing.
We’re proud to partner with Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Operation Christmas Child provides shoeboxes filled with toys, hygiene items, and school supplies to children around the world who have been affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease, and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S.
We’d love to invite you to consider hosting a packing party for your church or small group this year. With COVID-19 still a serious concern for families around the globe, Samaritan’s Purse seeks to share hope with children in need by collecting more shoeboxes than ever before.
Ready to get started?
- This is the most important part! From the very beginning of your preparations, be sure to pray for the children who will receive your shoebox gifts. Ask God to prepare their hearts to receive His love and to specifically guide you as you shop and pack to put just what each child needs in his or her shoebox. Then, before you send them off, pray over them again asking the Lord Jesus Christ to draw each recipient to Himself.
Set a Goal.
- How many shoeboxes do you plan to pack? Don’t forget to consider the nine dollars per shoebox suggested donation at this stage. It’s best to only aim for as many shoeboxes as you can cover with the suggested donation.
- Emphasize quality.
- Gather different items. Fill shoeboxes with items that will last. Think about the kids in your life—pack items you feel they would enjoy. Remember that each box represents the free gift of God’s love so be sure to send gifts that will bring a smile.
- Make the heart connection. Help participants understand why they are packing. Each shoebox gift represents an opportunity for a boy or girl to encounter Jesus Christ and share Him with their families and communities.
- Know when to stop. Avoid packing poor quality boxes with leftovers. The remaining items can be saved for next year or given to others in your church to help them start filling their shoeboxes.
- Check for quality. Create a station at your party where someone discreetly looks through each box to ensure they are full, unique, and complete with a “wow” item to give the child a glimpse of God’s incredible love. In addition, you may also consider having a teen or adult assist children under eight years old in assembling their shoebox gifts.
- Don’t forget the nine dollar donation. A suggested donation of nine dollars per shoebox gift is crucial to provide for shoebox gift collection, shipping, and distribution to over one hundred countries. Interested in discovering the destination of your shoebox gift? Donate through Follow Your Box. You can get Follow Your Box adhesive labels when you order pre-printed cardboard shoeboxes. Then, with a single scan from your smartphone camera, you can activate one or more labels or entire sets of fifty with your nine dollars per shoebox donation.
- Customize your packing party. No packing party looks the same so be creative! You can use a Christmas theme, engage the children and youth in your church, or host a “Birthday Party for Jesus” and set up an assembly line for your shoeboxes—have fun with it!
- Pack even amid COVID-19. In this unique season for churches that may not be meeting in person, Operation Christmas Child offers the ability to build a shoebox online! Individuals can pack an entire shoebox virtually and bless a child on the other side of the world without leaving home. Your church or group can work together virtually to reach a set goal by using the goal page which was created to help groups feel united with Operation Christmas Child while not being together.
- Now that you’ve planned your packing party—it’s time to get the word out! Think through who you will invite and how. Possibilities include: making an announcement at your church or group, displaying it on a bulletin board, sending a newsletter or an email, or posting it on social media or a website.
Arrange for Delivery.
- National Operation Christmas Child collection week will take place November 16-23, 2020. You can find one of Samaritan’s Purse’s 4,000+ collection locations (each offering a curbside drop-off option) on its website.
As you prepare to host a packing party, remember that each child is unique and every shoebox gift is unique. This simple aspect will delight the heart of the child who receives it, communicating God’s love to that boy or girl. Remember that quality items can help reinforce the amazing grace and goodness the Lord shows in the Gospel. Reassure children of His personal care for them by including a personal note and even a photo in each box. Above all, pray individually for each boy or girl who will receive a shoebox gift.