Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Pack a Shoebox (Really)

I've seen lots of posts on how to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child but they usually don't give any really good tips on how to actually pack it. Well, I'm going to try to give you some real tips and hints on how to pack a shoebox. What do you put in a shoebox, how do you get all of that in to it and so on.

If you've ever volunteered at a Processing Center, you learned very quickly NOT to take everything out as you inspect it. The very first box I inspected at the DFW Processing Center in 2013, I learned my lesson the hard way! I wanted to do a good job and so I took everything out so I could make sure there was nothing liquid in it, no war toys or food or anything else not allowed. And then....I couldn't get it all back in the box! I looked to my friend beside me for help. Her response was "you're on your own on this one!" Well, I did get it all back in but it wasn't easy.

There are really some good thoughts on how to get the most into your shoebox.

When I first started packing at our church packing parties, the lady in charge had some very specific ideas about what goes into a shoebox and I've pretty well stuck with the basics that I was taught.
The first thing that should always go into a shoebox is prayer. Pray that the things you put in the box will be the things that God knows that this child needs. No, I don't know which child will get the shoebox that I pack or even which country it will go to but God does and God knows what they need and what they want.

We always put in school supplies,
 soap & washcloth, toothpaste & toothbrush
 and then we go from there. I like to use the clear, plastic boxes that cost 96 cents at Wal-Mart. You can get them at many other stores too. There is nothing wrong with using a regular shoe box. I just like the plastic ones. IMO, that gives the kids one extra gift that they can keep for there treasures. I buy a large man's handkerchief and place that in the bottom and up the sides like you see in this picture. That way I don't have to worry about wrapping. (I don't like to wrap!)

The next thing I put in my box is a color book or composition notebook. These are larger items but they will also bend and/or lay flat. It's easy to slip a few pencils & erasers under the edge that curves in the box. I then put in other flat items. 

 Here I put a box of crayons on one side and my soap and wash cloth on the other. Always wrap your soap in the wash cloth and then place them both in a plastic zip type bag. Double bag these. The reason is that is you don't, after the shoebox has been closed up for several weeks, everything inside will smell like soap. The candy will even taste like soap. It's a good idea to put your candy in a zip lock bag also to help keep out bad smells. Directions for the felt dolls in the middle of this portion of the box can be found here.

Then I start placing items in that will lay easily. Place the toothpaste to one side. If you want to save some room. you can take the toothpaste out of the cardboard carton and put it in a zip lock back.
Any other flat items, like tote bags, head bands, etc can go in between the soap and crayons.
 Now, it's time to start looking for empty spaces. You can usually put glue sticks in a hollow spot and fit games in. Small items, like rings, plastic mazes, whistles, can go in most any where. Take advantage of all the space you have. I always like to put a cuddly toy, like a doll or stuffed animal in my boxes. This helps to meet the emotional needs that many of these children have. I look at the animal to see what the biggest part is. I will stuff a large nose or bottom in an empty spot. I do most anything to get my things to fit. Also, bagged candy will need to find a hollow space to fit in. 
When I have everything in my box, I fold the handkerchief sides over and place my envelope with the shipping cost on top. Having this on top makes it so much easier for the volunteers at the Processing Center to get this money to the right place.

I counted my items and I have 16 items in this box. Always put more than just one or two things and always put at least one wow item in the shoe box. God will guide your hands if you ask Him to help you pack your shoeboxes. 

Also, while you can't see it here, I also put a skirt in the shoebox, like the ones I made on Monday's post. I fold the skirt 2 or 3 times and then roll it up tightly. I do this with t-shirts and scarves also.

I added up the cost of the items in this shoebox. Because I watch for after holiday sales and make many items myself, the 16 items in this shoebox cost me just over $6.

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