Are you looking for a fun mission project for your women for the fall?
An Operation Christmas Child Packing Party provides an opportunity for your women to work together to bless children around the world!
Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In 2015 over 11 million boxes were packed and distributed to children around the world! For many of these children this is the one and only gift they may ever receive.
Many women’s ministry groups gather in late October or early November to pack and pray over the boxes their church is sending out. Some churches make this a church-wide project, other churches throw packing parties for the children. I know of several women’s Sunday school/Bible study groups that plan an evening fellowship to gather materials and pack boxes.
Last year I had the opportunity to share about my Operation Christmas Child distribution trip to Grenada at the Operation Christmas Child Packing Party our Children’s Ministry hosted.
I’ve compiled a how-to list for you based on our Packing Party, my distribution trip, and some tips gleaned from the Shoebox Shoppers Facebook Group.
How to Host an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party:
1. Order your Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and/or begin collecting boxes for your event. Many stores such as TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls are foten willing to give you shoeboxes for free. Refrain from using boot boxes or other large boxes as children at the distributions notice when someone receives more than they do. It would be better to pack two boxes for two children than one big box for one.
2. Make a list of items you want to collect. Some churches collect year-round focusing on a specific group of items every month, others just collect the month before the packing party. Here’s a link to the year-round packing list. Here is the link to the list of items you can and cannot include. I shared my favorite packing tips in this post.
3. Set up multiple drop-off locations for these items throughout your church. Empty them regularly. Some folks will contribute if they see a need, but won’t if they don’t!
4. Plan a time prior to your party to sort through the donations and separate them into bins/boxes. See categories listed below for one way to sort them.
5. Set up the room for your Packing Party. Place the donation categories on separate tables/areas, if possible.
- Hygiene Items (toothbrush, comb, washcloth, soap)
- School items (paper, pencils, pens, crayons)
- Accessories (hair bows, bracelets, sunglasses, hat, shirts)
- Toys (jump rope, ball, instrument, cars)
- Games (puzzles, cards) – Label “Take One”
- Stuffed Animals, Dolls, Wow Items (basketball, soccer ball) – Label “Take One”
6. Print out the free printable Operation Christmas Child Packing List for your attendees to use at your event. Children especially get so excited about packing that they don’t think through WHO they are packing for and just throw random things in a box. You will want to enlist your Youth and the parents of any children in attendance to pack a box together.
Click Link to Open Free PDF
7. Show your attendees the difference Operation Christmas Child can make in a child’s life. Operation Christmas Child has captured video of distribution events around the world. You can order a DVD for free here. You can also download a variety of videos here. You can also order the student version of The Greatest Journey. The Greatest Journey is a discipleship and evangelism program children are invited to attend (usually weekly) after the shoebox distribution. Pray that the children receiving your boxes will desire to know more about Jesus and will attend The Greatest Journey program offered in their community.
8. Give your attendees very specific instructions on how to pack a box. Show, don’t just tell, children and students what to do. Clearly label the location you want your boxes placed when finished. It helps to have volunteers throughout the space to answer questions and keep things running smoothly. Use the Packing Party Printable available above.
9. Pray. End with a time of everyone laying hands on the boxes and praying over them.
Be sure to check out the Operation Christmas Child website for additional tools and materials you can order that will enhance your event – many are free, some are available for a small cost. You’ll also find additional packing tips and ideas for your event.
You’ll notice I have not mentioned toothpaste or candy on these lists. Please note that 2016 is the last year that boxes from the US may contain candy (Smarties are best!) and/or toothpaste due to issues passing through Customs in other countries.
You may also want to read:
How Your Women’s Ministry Can Get Involved with Operation Christmas Child
How to Pack a Better Shoebox
What It’s Like to Give a Child a Shoebox
Serving in the OCC Processing Center – Part 1
Serving in the OCC Processing Center – Part 2
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Three years ago: Coffee, Cake, and Comedy Night