Explainer: Operation Christmas Child

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As Christmas is the time for giving I decided to take part in the Samaritans Purse ‘Operation Christmas child’.

Operation Christmas Child, is where you pack a shoebox with gifts and it gets sent to children in need in Africa, Eastern Europe and central Asia.

Tanya Fitzpatrick from Canterbury, has been making shoeboxes at Christmas since she was a child and continues to do so now. She said: “My mother in particular encouraged me to make up the boxes each year as Christmas time for us was always about giving to people who were less fortunate than ourselves. Even now, I don’t buy presents for anyone until I have made up my shoeboxes. I enjoy making the boxes up each year.”

Tanya , who is a radiographer with the NHS also said how she had got some of her work colleagues involved as well. She said: “I make a poster, leave it in the staff room and some people also take part and make shoeboxes for me to take down to a drop off centre along with my own”.

Assistant Director for Operation Christmas Child, Christ Roberts told us about how the campaign blesses over 11 million children with the sense that life is worth living.

Mr Roberts also said: “They cannot believe that they are worth such a gift, let alone that someone who doesn’t know them could be so generous.  This simple act of generosity can change their whole world view to one that recognises that maybe the world can be better than what they have experienced to date.”

According to Mr Roberts, the charity often meets adults in the UK that received the shoeboxes as children in Eastern Europe, and that they have an urge to send more boxes to children who are in the same situation they were and that ‘we don’t  understand how much of an impact they can have on the children who recieve them’.

Below is a short guide on how you can make and send your own shoebox with ‘Operation Christmas Child’.

What do I need to do first?

The first thing you will need to do is make sure that you have access to everything in the list below, as you will need the items to complete your shoebox. You also need to choose what age your box is aimed at and also whether it is for a girl or a boy. The age category’s are 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14.

What do I need? For your shoebox you will need the following

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  • A shoebox with a lid
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Sellotape
  • Access to a computer and printer
  • Presents

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What can I include in the shoebox?

In your shoebox you can include toy items such as dolls, stuffed toys (must have CE label), toy cars/trucks, yo-yos, skipping ropes, balls and small games such as puzzles.

You can also include school supplies, notebooks, pens, crayons, solar calculators and colouring books.

Hygiene items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, bars of wrapped soap, hairbrush and flannels can also be included.

Other items you can include are items such as jewellery, torch, hair clips.

What can I not include?

As the boxes get sent all over the world, there are restrictions on what your shoebox can contain.

The charity asks you not to include items such as liquids or lotions, war related items such as toy guns, knives or soldiers, medicines, food items, handmade toys, sharp objects, glass containers, fragile items, playing cards and items that have a political or religious nature.

Whats next?

  1. Once you have wrapped your shoebox and lid you can then start to fill it with your presents.
  2. You can now decide whether or not you would like to include a personal letter or picture. If you would like to do so you can put it in the top of your box.
  3. Next you will need to donate £3 or more online to help towards the shipping cost of your box.
  4. Print your barcode and write which gender and age range you have chosen to give your shoebox too.
  5. Final step is to put the lid on the shoebox and take it to your nearest collections point, which can be found online.

Samaritans will email you in January to let you know exactly where your shoebox went.

Merry Christmas

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