Think Inside the Box

November 16, 2009 | 25 comments

Go ahead. Just this once, put God inside a box.

Fill a shoebox
with kazoos and toothpaste
and a washcloth and pencils
and a yo-yo and candy
and the extravagant love of Jesus.

Consider being a part of Operation Christmas Child, a shoe-box gift program that sends gifts and grace and the message of salvation to hurting children around the world.

Since it began, Operation Christmas Child has distributed 69 million boxes to wee ones.

That happened this way:

One + one + one + one ….

It took JUST ONE SHOEBOX to reach Sorina Riddle in her native Romania. (Click here to read her story.) Sorina told the Salisbury Post that her shoebox “helped me believe in God.” A few years later, Sorina was baptized, along with her mother and brother.

It took JUST ONE SHOEBOX to reach Nana and Bograte, who were living among refugees after their villages were burned and bombed last year.

It took just one shoebox to reach a boy in poverty,
a girl in an orphanage,
a malnourished toddler with a bloated belly,
and a lonely teenager in a refugee camp.

These are children with faces and souls. Like our own children, these are the children of God. He knows their names …

On Sunday, we multiplied the feast. Giving is contagious! We have fewer than 20 children in our little country church, but together — one + one + one — we packed 30 boxes.

There’s still time to be a part of it. Collections end Nov. 23. Check the Operation Christmas Child website for more information on packing a box and how you can be a part of a ministry that restores joy to children in desperation situations.

Do you have an Operation Christmas Child story? Any tips to share for packing a box? Any story to share of the blessing you received in packing a box? Share with the community here. We’d love to hear!

by | November 16, 2009 | 25 comments


  1. Jennifer

    This is such a great program! How amazing that your 20 children packed up 30 boxes!! I'm sure it meant so much to them to be part of something like this! ♥

  2. lynnrush

    Fantastic. I might try that program this year. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Deborah Ann

    Awesome work for the Lord! Thank you for your faithfulness for the children.

    Have a blessed week, Jennifer!

  4. jasonS

    I love this- we've been doing it at our church. It's such a beautiful thing!

  5. Tony C

    Great promotion!

    The 2 year old and the teenager are doing a box each at my house. A great opportunity to teach…

    By the way, a missions team from where I go to church just returned from Nicaragua. One of the members said she saw boxes in several of the homes they went to visit. The kids cherish them.


  6. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Tony — thanks for sharing the testimony of Operation Christmas Child in Nicaragua.

    I've been told, also, that the children who receive the gifts cherish the personal notes and photographs that are often sent along with the gifts.

  7. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    I loved the message written on the box. Once again, you reached inside and got to me.
    ~ Wendy

  8. Anne Lang Bundy

    It's not that much more expensive to use a plastic storage box from the dollar store the same size as a shoe box, and will give the child a durable container for kid treasures–an extra gift.

    Our daughter is especially fond of celebrating Christmas with picking out the gifts for these boxes. Letting my kids pick out stuff under my oversight involves them, is fun, and helps ensure the gifts will be popular.

  9. Lady Claudette

    We're doing this program at our school 🙂 It's so amazing to hear all the shoeboxes you filled up! I'm sure they will be a blessing to whoever recieves them.

  10. Karen

    This ministry is awesome…our church is involved in this….

  11. Denise @ A Sacred Longing

    I did it this year for the first time. I had so much fun. I just wish the shoe boxes could have been bigger or at least hope the rubber band holding them together doesn't break! :O)

    I pray that the little boy and the little girl that receives our boxes will feel the love of Christ in each and every item.


  12. Beth E.

    I am the chairperson for the OCC shoe box ministry at our church. We are a small church, but we collected close to 150 boxes this year! My family contributed six boxes.

    The OCC shoe box ministry excites me more than any other ministry, and is one of the highlights of the season for me.

    My tips? Hmmm…

    *If you pack soap, buy UNSCENTED soap.
    *Try to buy toys with longevity in mind. A ball or a jump rope are good things to include.
    *Only choose items that you would give to your own children. Cheap, poorly made items should not be included.
    *Plan ahead. We have a large plastic container. We buy small toys throughout the year, taking advantage of sales. When it's shoe box time, we are able to fill several boxes without our finances taking a big hit.
    *Spread the word. Encourage your church, school, clubs or organizations to become involved.

    The added benefit of this ministry? Not only are the children blessed, but the givers are blessed as well! I can't describe the way this ministry has blessed our family. We have received two letters from children who have received our shoe boxes.

    Lives radically changed through a simple, love-filled shoe box…

  13. Beth E.

    OH! I almost forgot…the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do when packing the shoe box…PRAY. Pray over the shoe box, that God will lead you to fill it with the appropriate things, and that He will choose the right child to receive the box. Time and again, Franklin Graham has shared stories of children receiving the very items they needed most in the shoe boxes:

    *A music box for a blind child
    *Shoes for the child who had none.
    *A doll and doll clothes for the girl who never had a doll, and had specifically prayed for one.
    *School supplies for the child who couldn't attend school until he had those supplies.

    The list goes on and on. PRAYER is the key for this ministry. 🙂

  14. Amber

    Hi there!! My mom does shoeboxes an d collects for them all year. She must have 150 boxes in her art studio right now. I need to photograph it I guess. 😉 My daughter and I help her and contribute when we can. 😀

  15. Bina @ Bina's Pad

    May I say, on behalf of my husband and the missions team that he traveled with to Brazil…those boxes mean SO much.

    Our church's team had the task of sorting thru almost 1500 boxes that had been caught at Brazil's customs for over NINE months!!! They had to clean EACH and EVERY box out, as most all the candy had melted into them…but praise be to God, only a few had to be totally thrown out and children all over that beautiful country were presented with pieces of God's love that were shapped as candy, play-do, crayons and small toys.

    It is a great thing to do…and I am glad for this post! Hopefully will get more people involved!

    BIG hugs, Jennifer!

  16. Red Letter Believers

    This program is an honest one…with great results

    Just Read Rich Stearns book, " A Hole in the Gospel"

    It will change your life!

  17. Girl In a Glass House

    Thank you for promoting this program…I have been blessed to take part in the past but the last couple of years I let it slip. Thanks to you I will take part this year again

    God Bless You for yoru faithfulness

  18. cindyhan111

    this is such a good thing… this mission… thank you for postingon it. Our church does it too.

  19. Missy

    Our family has done this the last couple of years; each child gets 1 box to pack.
    We get a lot of basic things that we think of as boring but they treasure. Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, socks, etc.
    Then we try to get some paper and pencils/crayons, maybe a book and a couple of fun little toys.

  20. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Wonderful tips, one and all. Thank you for sharing, and God bless you as you do Kingdom Work this Christmas season.

    Sending my love to each of you …

  21. Graceful

    A totally awesome idea! I am forwarding the link to your blog post to our church's Sunday School director. Sounds like a great project!

  22. elaine @ peace for the journey

    We packed our boxes last week as well. I wrote about our last minute trip to Wal-Mart along those lines. Such a worthy practice this time of year. We're not done adopting yet; we have an angel tree at our small country church. I love that we both attend small country churches!

    Hope little girl is feeling better by now.

    PS: As far as tastebuds, tell her I've never acquired a taste for rice. Just hasn't happened for me! But God's Word? All over it.

  23. Jennifer

    I love Operation Christmas Child! Such a great offering up of the gifts God has given us….and it's an excuse to shop the toy aisle, something we children at heart love to do.

  24. Amber

    Hello friend! I just wanna thank you again for posting that video. I was able to share it with my mom in a time when she was really stressed out about getting all the shoeboxes done in time. She was so ministered by it, bringing tears of joy to her eyes. 😀

  25. sharilyn

    i have had the privilege the past couple of years of getting to work as a volunteer at one of the eight warehouses. there is one just 40 minutes from where i live in southern CA. it is AMAZING to see the stacks and stacks and stacks of hundreds of boxes packed and being processed at the collection warehouses. to see the thousands of boxes that loving hands have packed is incredible!

    one great gift suggestion a fellow volunteer shared was for the teen girls–since many girls that age in 3rd world countries are already married–she packs cooking kits (like mess kits) she gets at army surplus stores… and tools for the teen boys. i thought that was a wonderful idea!


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