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  • Writer's picturecatalystyouth

Blog #36 - A Simple Shoebox Gift packed with Love

In a world which is trying to fight a pandemic we still need to show each other LOVE.

One way we can do this is by sending a simple shoebox filled with love... now, that’s not just an empty box, but filled with gifts for various ages.

Operation Christmas Child’s (OCC) shoebox appeal is the largest children’s Christmas project in the world. It aims to give Christmas presents to children in need and has been taking place annually throughout the last 30 years. 

Every Christmas people are asked to create shoeboxes full of presents to take to a local ‘Church Collection Centre’, then they are sent to processing centres all over the country. This year due to Covid-19 we have just 3, in Oldbury in the West Midlands, Tonbridge in the South East and Leigh in the North West. 

They are then sorted and delivered to children across the world. Although the appeal is open to everyone, children, in particular, are encouraged to create their own shoeboxes in order to help them understand the value of giving to others.

A bit of Background

The roots of the shoebox appeal stem from a fundraising initiative by Dave Cooke in 1990, who felt compelled to help children in Romanian orphanages after watching a TV news item about them. He encouraged people in his local town of Wrexham, North Wales, to donate aid to be delivered to Romanian orphanages. There was an overwhelming response from the local community and over £60,000 was raised, some of which was in the form of shoeboxes filled with Christmas presents for the children. The success of the initiative helped to generate a lot of publicity and in the following years the scheme continued to grow, with tens of thousands of gift-filled shoeboxes being donated from different communities and schools across the UK. In 1995, Operation Christmas Child merged with Samaritan’s Purse, which helped to launch the shoebox appeal in other countries, and donors all over the world were able to fill shoeboxes with presents to be delivered to children in need.

In 2019, 398,664 shoe boxes were sent from the UK to 10 countries across Eastern Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East! In total 11 million boxes were collected world wide and delivered to children all over the world!

Over 178 million boxes have been delivered since the idea in 1990, which is amazing!

On a personal note, I have been supporting OCC since the early 2000’s and in the last 3 years have gone a step further and become an all year round volunteer, as the Area Coordinator for Somerset.

I have a passion not only for each child to receive a shoebox filled with love but to ‘See Jesus Change Lives’, which is Alive Christian Ministries strap line on our logo.

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to show God's love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Samaritans Purse

So my challenge to you is to fill a shoebox. 

Here's what to do:


Find a Shoebox

Get an empty medium sized shoebox, and wrap the box and lid separately in colourful wrapping paper or order pre-printed shoeboxes online. Attach the appropriate boy/girl label, marking if your gift is for a boy or a girl. Select an age category 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 and attach the label to the top of your shoebox.


Fill with gifts

Fill your shoebox with a selection of fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies. If possible, include one or two special items you know a child will love such as a doll, cuddly toy or deflated football with pump. 


Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls or cuddly toys, toy trucks, harmonica, yo-yo, skipping rope, ball, small puzzles etc.


Pens, pencils & sharpeners, crayons or felt pens, stamps & ink pad sets, writing pads or notebooks & paper, solar calculators, colouring & picture books etc.


Toothbrush, bars of wrapped soap, comb or hairbrush, flannel.


Hat, cap, gloves or scarf, sunglasses, hair accessories, jewellery set, wind up torch, slinky spring, matchbox cars.


Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; seeds; sweets, chocolate or food items; toothpaste, lotions or liquids including bubbles; medicines; playing cards of the 4-suit variety; religious or political literature; sharp or fragile items; books with mainly words.


Make your project donation

A suggested donation of £5 is essential to cover project costs, including shipping, to enable a local church or group overseas to lead a safe, well-organised children's event where your shoebox will be given to a child in need. More detail on what your donation covers here. Give online at Follow Your Box and you can print out a barcode and place it inside your shoebox on top of the contents. This will enable us to tell you which country your shoebox gets sent to.

Or you can enclose cash or cheque (to Samaritan's Purse) and place it in an envelope inside your shoebox on top of the contents. If you are packing multiple shoeboxes you can write a cheque for one combined donation. Note: Follow Your Box is only available by paying online.


Personalise & Pray

Personalise your shoebox by including a hand written note and a photograph of yourself, your group or your family. You may also like to pray for the child that will receive your gift.

And finally…


Drop Off Your Shoebox

Place a rubber band around each closed shoebox and take it to a local Drop-off Location between 9th and 16th November. Your nearest Drop-off Location will be listed on the website (find my nearest Drop-off Location), or call 0870 011 2002.


Currently, Collection Week is postponed due to the new Lockdown Rules coming into force from Thursday 5th November. But please keep checking the OCC website for further info

I feel this year more then ever, the world needs LOVE and HOPE. If you can, fill a shoebox, pay £5 and show a child somewhere in the world not only LOVE, but the HOPE they can find in Jesus.

“No one has ever become poor by giving”

Anne Frank

Stay safe,


This week’s resource…

Video: OCC 2019 Promo

About: Watch how Operation Christmas Child brings Good News and great joy to children around the world through gift-filled shoeboxes. This video is a great way to share the project with your friends, church, school or group.

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