Packing and processing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child is admittedly one of my very favorite service projects.

For over 14 years our family has packed shoeboxes and now serves every year at the Processing Center in Charlotte.

I’ve helped plan Packing Parties at church and Youth service projects at the Processing Center.

In 2015 I had the opportunity to travel to Grenada to help distribute shoeboxes. (You can read about my trip here.)

I’ve seen first-hand the impact a shoebox can make in a child’s life.

Shoebox distributions are all about the Gospel. The box is just a bonus (and a BIG deal to children who may have never received a gift before).

I know many of you pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child as a family, as a church, and even as a women’s ministry activity.

Every year God uses YOU to help distribute millions of boxes packed with love to show children around the world that someone loves and cares for them. Every child who receives a box has the opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior. Many also have the opportunity to attend 12 weeks of discipleship classes in their community. One box can impact many lives as those children return home and to school and share what they are learning about God and Jesus.

As you prayerfully work to pack the best box possible, please be aware of these 4 changes.

Please note changes are specific to boxes sent from the United States. Boxes processed in other countries may have differing guidelines.

Here are four important changes you need to be aware of this year:

1.The suggested donation for shipping has increased to $9 per box.

You can spread the cost out by donating any time during the year. I know several people who donate and print their follow-the-box labels over several months so it’s not such a hardship.

2. You can order preprinted plastic boxes, in addition to the cardboard boxes for packing.

I ordered a dozen of the plastic shoeboxes and was super impressed with the quality! Not only are they thicker than what I’ve purchased at  Wal-Mart, but the lids snap tight and keep the box closed.

The preprinted boxes are designed to fit neatly inside each shipping box. Having helped with the processing of the boxes, I can tell you it’s a lot like a Tetris game. Less shoeboxes per box equals an increase cost. You can order the preprinted plastic or cardboard boxes here. You can still send any plastic or cardboard shoebox (please no oversized boot boxes though).

3. Toothpaste can no longer be sent in shoeboxes.

It’s a customs issue. You can still send bars of soap, solid deodorants (no gel), and toothbrushes. Toothpaste will be removed from your box at the Processing Center should you forget.

4. Candy can no longer be sent in shoeboxes.

Again, this will allow shoeboxes to pass through customs much more easily. And having been on the ground as boxes were distributed, I can tell you it’s a good thing. Even hard candies melted and ruined items inside many of the shoeboxes we delivered. It was heartbreaking…

This year Hurricane Harvey destroyed many Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and shoebox supply rooms in the state of Texas. Please consider packing a few extra boxes this year to replace those that were destroyed.

If you’re looking for more ideas about you can participate in Operation Christmas Child this year, be sure to check out these posts:
How to Pack a Better Shoebox
My Message in a Box
What It’s Like to Give a Child a Shoebox
How to Host an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party
How Your Women’s Ministry Can Get Involved with Operation Christmas Child

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