Sunday, November 18, 2012

Packing Shoe Boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Today our Sunday School Class (5th and 6th Grade) and the 1st and 2nd grade class packed Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes for needy children.

We packed 34 boxes!

One of the students helped us drive them to a nearby drop-off center. Here's a photo of Ruth and I with the boxes in the trunk.

We've done this for many years with the Sunday School.  The children really enjoy doing it. They own it and it's their own service project. I started putting notes together from the lessons we learned and realized I would post them in case someone else can benefit from them.

  • Order Boxes and other materials (labels and more) in advance on the website 
  • View the drop-off centers and the due date well in advance and set a date to pack the boxes (you may also need to decide who will take the boxes to the drop-off center - perhaps some of the "packers" may like to go and see the excitement there as well)
  • Communicate with church/parents in advance so they know what's going on and when the day will be. Send them a list of what to bring, what can be put into the boxes, that you will already have boxes, and that they can donate online and print a label to find out where the box goes.
  • Show video in advance and invite the whole church to contribute or take part (although it's special when the Sunday School or youth group can own it themselves). Videos are available on the website, or you can make your own slideshow from photos from the prior year if you did it the year before
  • Show videos (from the website) to the Sunday School classes the week before the event and remind them what to shop for
  • Send another reminder email to church/parents about what to shop for and to donate and bring the barcode
  • Tell people they can fill their own boxes with what they brought, or that you will have a place to put donations and then children can pull from that pile to pack boxes
The Day before the event
  • Make a donation in advance and bring labels
  • Get some suplies together: 
  • Bring clear packing tape to apply labels - maybe tape them on in advance?
  • Bring rubber bands for all the boxes so stuff doesnt spill
  • Bring a camera (maybe appoint a photographer)
  • Bring a permanent marker - helpful for marking boxes 
  • Print a page in advance that has a small note with the address of the church with a note that you'd like to hear from them if possible (maybe also mention that you are including a photo). You may even want to create a form with this information and allow the "packers" who are helping pack the boxes sign the form and maybe add a note.
Setup for the event:
  • Set up tables (in a large room or Gym)
  • Make one place to put boxes together (The children in about 4th grade and up like to do this)
  • Make one place (table) for those who want to pack their own boxes with their own things they bought
  • Make another place (table) for the bunch of donated items 
  • Make yet another place (table) for "packed" boxes
The event:

 Designate adult helpers:
  • Someone to help children with folding boxes
  • Someone to collect any donations 
  • Someone to take photos - try to get individual photos of each "packer" packing a box
  • Someone to help checking contents of boxes for age category  and either marking the age range and boy/girl or putting a label on each box
  • Someone to check that a note (and photo) gets in each box and then a rubber band is placed around it
  • Someone to count boxes completed

Announce the following items:
  • Tell the "packers" that they can fill their own boxes with what they brought (at the one place/table), or fill boxes from the items donated (from the "donation" place/table - the "packers" can pull from that pile to pack boxes).
  • Put out the note printed ahead of time (see above) and tell all the "packers" sign it 
  • Take a photo of everyone and send it to the local photo printing place (Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, etc). Many have apps for smartphones that make this easy to do. Print enough photos for the estimated number of boxes.
Once started - during and after the packing:
  • Be available to help "packers"
  • Make more photocopies of the note so one can go in every box - save a copy or take a photo of it to make a video the next year
  • After the boxes are all packed, have all the "packers" pray for the receivers. Take a photo of everyone with hands on the boxes praying for the children who will receive them.
After the Event - getting the boxes to the drop-off center
  • Someone can pull around the car
  • Children/ "Packers" can carry the boxes
  • Get photos of everyone helping carry the boxes
  • In some cases, some of the "packers" may like to go along to the drop-off center (for children,  get advance permission)
  • Pick up the copies of the photo of the group (use a one-hour photo) and put a copy in each box along with the notes
  • Remember to give the donations to the drop-off center
 I'd like to hear any notes you have for ideas for this great service project!

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