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Packing a box for Operation Christmas Child

November 11, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
I had a lot of fun last night buying items to fill an Operation Christmas Child box for a girl between the ages of 5 and 9.

The charity, run by Samaritan's Purse, asks people to fill a shoe box or a similar sized container with hygiene items, toys, school supplies and other things for a child between the ages of 2 and 14. Age categories are a boy or girl between the ages of 2 and 4, 5 and 9 and 10 and 14. I've heard that there are fewer boxes packed for boys and fewer for the older kids, so you might want to keep that in mind when deciding which age group to pack a box for.

The boxes from Minot will be picked up at Zion Lutheran Church on Nov. 18, delivered to Bismarck and from there taken to a distribution center in Minneapolis. The boxes from this region will be delivered to children in India and Zambia.

The boxes are then delivered to impoverished areas all over the world. Many Minot residents are in dire straits due to the flood this summer, but kids here still aren't at risk in the same way that some of those kids I saw in the videos, the ones who live near a garbage dump or the 5-year-old who can't go to school because she doesn't have any shoes and must work to support her family. Thinking of those circumstances made me want to do something for at least one of those kids.

For the box I prepared, I decided that lots of art supplies would be the ticket. A box of crayons, colored chalk, colored pencils, watercolors, glittery stamps and a couple of small notebooks went into the box along with bright pink hair clips, a stuffed blue dog, a pink washcloth, a pink comb, tooth paste and tooth brush and a pink solar calculator. I wish I had been able to cram the drawing pad into the box as well but it was too big.

The web site and brochure has other ideas. For a boy, you might pack a baseball cap, a ball, small toy cars or trucks or a game that lights up. Girls might like jump ropes, an Etch a Sketch, a Slinky or a baby doll.

Kids also like getting school supplies and hygiene items like soap, toothpaste and toothbrush or hairbrush or, for the older kids, deodorant. Samaritan's Purse has instructions on its website for what not to send as well. Don't include anything liquid, aerosol cans, medicine or vitamins, food or hard candy past the expiration date. Warlike toys like toy soldiers and toy guns are a no-no as well, probably because many of these kids live in war torn regions.

People can also include a handwritten note or card for the child inside the box.

I never heard from the child I sent the box to last Christmas but I've seen some of the videos on YouTube of kids opening those boxes. Talk about lighting up like a Christmas tree! There's one of a little girl beaming when she put on a pair of plastic sunglasses that could bring tears to your eyes.

There's more information on the Samaritan's Purse website about how to donate and where to send the shoebox. Locally, you can pick up a box or drop off a box at Zion Lutheran Church in Minot. People can mail boxes to Operation Christmas Child, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, N.C. 28607. Collection week is next week. The organization would like families to include a $7 donation in each box to help pay for delivery costs.


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