Operation Christmas Child: Using Your Stockpile To Donate

Operation Christmas Child Donate

As we come upon the holiday season, I wanted to take a minute to share some ideas for giving. It is so important to remember that this time of year is more about giving than receiving.

Reader R recently packed up boxes for Operation Christmas Child with her 3 children. This is an AMAZING gift  – teaching your children to be generous. We stock up all year long and this is an opportunity to give back.  If you are unfamiliar with Operation Christmas child, you can read more about it here.  If you have little money to donate, but have an overflowing stockpile, this opportunity is perfect. Even if you can’t prepare the entire box, find a church or organization that is accepting donations!

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Reader R’s story:

My first experience with Operation Christmas Child was when I was in high school and went to the processing center in Charlotte, NC with my Church youth group.  I had never seen so many shoeboxes!  I immediately wanted to pack my own but it was too late that year.  Every year after that I packed boxes, shopping all year long to be able to buy enough supplies for 12 boxes, enough for a boy and girl in each age group, 2-4, 5-9 & 10-14.  I wanted to pack more but the cost can add up quickly.  I discovered through sites like For The Mommas that I could get good name brand hygiene items like toothpaste and toothbrushes for free or very cheap., school supplies inexpensively in the summer, toys sales like hotwheels in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and shop end of season clearance racks to find clothes, flip flops or hats.  In 2011 my two oldest sons wanted to have a shoebox packing party for their birthday and with the help of their friends they were able to pack 52 boxes.  We had to stop when we ran out of shoeboxes.  By shopping all year long I am able to get supplies to pack more boxes or donate to the packing parties at our Church.  Some of the things we include are a notebook, pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons, soap, washcloth, toothpaste & toothbrush, balls, stuffed animals, small cars, jump ropes, markers, colored pencils, erasers, puzzles, marbles & hard candy.  My boxes are packed and waiting for Collection Week, Nov. 18-25 and it is time to start shopping for next year.


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Tips for using your stockpile:

1. Collect and gather freebies throughout the year. Don’t forget to check out back to school sales, end of season sales and more.

2. When packing your boxes, be sure to check expiration dates on your stockpile items.

3. Let your kids “shop” your stockpile for things to donate – it makes them feel involved.

4. Ask your couponing friends for items you don’t not have. Your friends/family might have or stockup on different things.

5. Be sure to check the guidelines of what you can and cannot send.

6. Check the Dollar Store for inexpensive toy items.

7. Write  a personalized note or send a photo.

8. Don’t be afraid to include toiletry items, they are much needed.

9. Include 1-2 fun things – markers, coloring books, cars or stuffed animals are great.

10. Remember, one box can make a difference – if that is all you can do – that is AWESOME!

Do you have any tips for donating to Operation Christmas Child?

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  • Colleen Hogan Zimmerman

    A definite “YES” to #2. Always check the expiration dates and make sure that it is good for at least 6-8 months. It can take awhile before the boxes actually get to the children. Awhile ago during inspection someone discovered an out dated tube of toothpaste. The entire shipment was rejected! It sounded like it was the country the shipment was going to that rejected it.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE your post! I am going to share it early in the year as a way to encourage others to start thinking this way all year round. :) I volunteer and blog year round about OCC and the more I learn the more excited I am to be part of this ministry.

  • Last year was the first time we sent a box to OCC. While I wanted to be a blessing to at least one child, it turned out to be a much bigger blessing to me:


  • We have been doing this for years, probably almost 20 with our 4 kids, who are now 16-23. Last summer daughter #2 was on a 3 month long mission trip to Paraguay and got to distribute some Operation Christmas Child boxes! She said it was an incredible experience and the children really are blessed by those boxes.

    • What an amazing blessing!

  • We love this ministry!! We take the opportunity to shop as a chance for a date with each of our kiddos. We take our daughter & let her pick out things for a girl’s box in her age range & then do the same with our son. Our kids love the shopping & the time with a one-on-one date with mom & dad. Win-Win!

  • I <3 OCC! I had a question for you, do you pay the $7 fee for each box, too? I would love to do more, but that fee can add up quickly for our household budget. Thanks for your insight!

    • Try taking your boxes to an organization that collects them — sometimes they will accept your boxes.

  • Becky

    My church have been doing this for the past two years. My family got a letter back from one of the kids that got our box from India!!! Some of the kids have NEVER gotten a gift before. We are so blessed in this country.

    • We are incredibly blessed and I love that this group is so generous!

  • Kelsey

    This is what I’ve been doing this year. Operation Christmas Child is my favorite organization to donate to! So exciting!

  • TK

    I love the idea of getting the kids involved. Thanks for sharing.

  • KyleneW

    Awesome! What a blessing those will be to all those kids :)

  • Debbie