Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Think Outside the Shoe Box

Just a quick tips today for items for Operation Chirstmas Child shoeboxes.

Just let you brain go wild when you are looking in the clearance aisle for your stores. I recently found some tins with 2 decks of cards in each one for $2 each. The tins and cards were decorated for Doc McStuffins and Pet Patrol. My first thought for $1 for each deck. Then I got to thinking about what to do with the tins. They are a great size for pencil boxes.

I used some of the chalk board paint left over from the chalkboards I showed you on Monday's post to paint the top of each box. I painted the bottom of each box green but any color will do. I had some green paint at the house. I had to do 2 coats on the top and bottom. After the dry, they are perfect to put pencils, erasers, chalk and other items in! So for $2, I got items for 3 shoeboxes which averaged out to about 66 cents for each item. This would also be good to put Legos in, a sewing kit, a fishing kit, or many more things in.

As you are shopping for things to go in shoeboxes, don't be afraid to repurpose things for them. A little paint or fabric can turn a throw away into a WOW for your boxes. Remember, don't put a throw away item that still looks like a throw away into the shoeboxes. Be sure to take some time to make it into something new and great.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Make Chalk Boards for Shoeboxes

I thought that small chalk boards would be good for shoeboxes so I decided that I would make some. Today, while I was out, I did find some already completed at Dollar Tree for $1 but these were too wide to lay flat in the shoebox. For easier packing, I feel that the chalk board needs to be able to lay flat. I figure that the ones I'm making cost about 17 cents each.

This can make a good project for a church youth group, a Vacation Bible School craft, a scout group or some other group. With a dozen or so people, these can be made pretty quickly.

Materials needed:
1 large piece of backing  board or plywood, 3/8 - 1/4" thick
sanding block
chalk board paint
paint brushes, sponge or bristle
lytex or rubber gloves (optional)

I recommend that you use some type of gloves for this project or your hands may look like this.

I used to be able to paint without making a mess but that time seems to have passed. You also might want to wear an apron or an old shirt.

 I made my chalk boards to be 4 x 6" so that they will fit flat into the shoebox without any trouble. 
Many lumber yards will cut the boards for you but be sure to ask what they charge. My local Lowes store would cut them at 25 cents a cut.  That could add up pretty fast. If you can find someone with a table saw or a radial saw, they can cut them for you. My son cut mine on a radial saw in about 30 minutes. For the 4 x 8' piece of board, he was able to cut 165 pieces. That's a lot of chalkboards! It helps to fill a lot of shoeboxes though and remember, every shoebox is a gospel opportunity. 
If you don't want that many, you should be able to buy a piece of board that is half that size.

Sand the edges of the cut boards so that there are no splinters. You can use plain sandpaper or put it on a sanding block. IMO, it's easier to use a sanding block. You can buy sand paper already cut to size for sanding blocks or it's easy enough to cut it yourself from a sheet.

You will want to spread out newspaper or card board to cover your surface before you paint.
Paint each board. I started out with a can Krylon spray paint but I was only able to do about 20 boards, one side, with it. When I got more paint, I got a quart can of Glidden chalkboard paint. This was more than enough to do all of the chalkboards. You can paint just one side or you can paint both sides. Painting the edges is up to you. Each side that you paint needs two coats of paint. I paint it horizontal the first coat and vertical for the second coat.
I set the slab of boards outside in our Texas sun and they dried in about 20 minutes. Inside it will take a little longer to dry.

You will need something for an eraser to go with the chalk boards. I took fabric scraps and cut pieces about 4 x 6" for this.
Be sure you also include at least 2 or 3 pieces of chalk for the children to use. Because chalk can be very dusty, you might want to put it into a zip lock type of bag so the dust doesn't get all over the other items in the box.

Cost breakdown:
1 sheet of board   $15
1 qt of paint           10
sand paper, misc      3
  total                    $28
Divided by 165 pieces = 0.16969 cents per chalk board

Left over fabric scraps  free--If you don't have any, ask your church members or mothers for some.
Chalk cost varies. Look for it on sale. I found some side walk chalk, which works just as well, in the Dollar Spot at my local Target. That was 12 pieces of chalk for $1.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Craft Day for Shoe Boxes

Today, at church, we had a craft day where several of us came and put some simple crafts together to make some cool things to put in our shoe boxes. We've been working on felt "paper" dolls. washer necklaces, chalk boards, fleece scarves, spinner tops, clothespin airplanes, note pads, sewing cards, and other items. Today we had 12 people show up and we got a lot accomplished. We have things that any age person can work with and you don't have to be a crafter or seamstress to do it. We always have some items that are at the point where they just need assembling and we have no sew items. Several of the things were working on have been posted on this blog or will be in the coming days. Take a look at some of our pictures.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Gift for Baby

Materials needed:
Zoo Babies stamp set from SU
Crisp Cantaloupe card stock 4 1/4 x/5/1/2"
White card stock
Greenhouse Gala patterned paper 4 x 5 1/4"
Corner Rounder
Pumpkin Pie ink
Tuxedo Black ink
Taupe ink
Zoo brads ( I don't remember where I got these. I think it might have been Paper Wishes)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Manly Scraps

If you are like me, and many paper crafters that I know, you have a box sitting next to your work table where you throw your scraps in to use in later projects. Well, if you are like me, that box is full and you haven't looked in it in a while. So today, I pulled some scraps out to make this manly birthday card.
Materials needed:
Best of Birthdays stamp set from SU
Be the Star stamp set from SU 
Really Rust ink
Large oval punch
Stampin' Dimensionals
Left overs
   The top scrap is 1 1/4" wide. The right side scrap is 1" wide. The background card stock is 4 1/4 x 5 1/2". I made 3 of these cards and each one has a different background card stock.
    The triangle banner pieces are made from balsa wood and were left over from a Paper Pumpkin craft kit. I stamped the stars on the triangles with Really Rust ink. I had one extra triangle so I adhered it to the inside of the card next to the greeting. You could even use left overs from the dimensionals if you use the side pieces. I use them all the time!

A simple card  from left over paper scraps.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Butterfly Birthday

Materials needed:
Papillon Potpourri stamp set (123759 SU)
Bitty Butterfly punch
Elegant Butterfly punch
Word Window punch
Daffodil Delight card stock 4 1/4x 5 1/2"
Slate Gray card stock 3 x 4 1/2"
Lost Lagoon card stock 2 3/4 x 4"
Corner Rounder
White card stock
Sizzix embossing folder
Raspberry Ripple ink
Floral Ribbon
Stampin' Dimensionals

I think you can figure this card out easily with the dimensions that I've listed and looking at the picture. If you have any questions, just ask.

How to Pack Multiple Shoe Boxes Without Breaking the Bank

Ok, so you packed shoe boxes last year and you enjoyed doing it. You plan on packing one again this year but your group or your church is asking you to do more. You would like to because you know that this is a great charity that helps a lot of people learn about Jesus. But all of that stuff adds up. How can you afford to do more shoe boxes?

I pack 50 boxes every year and would like to do even more but I don't feel like I can afford the shipping for more boxes than that. After all, 50 boxes times $7 per box is $350. So when I buy more items than I need for my own shoe boxes, I donate the stuff to my church's packing party.

When I was in Tanzania, I wanted to cry when I saw the kids who were outside and not allowed to come in to the distribution because we did not have enough shoeboxes for more children.

Here are some tips for packing multiple shoe boxes. Some ideas may not work in your area but I'm sure you can come up with other ideas.

1. Don't wait until October or November to start buying things for you shoe boxes. Think about it all year round. When you see something on sale, mittens in January for example, buy several of them then! I'm getting to be notorious at my local Wal-Mart. One time about a year ago, I found a shopping basket filled with children's flip-flops for 50 cents each. I wheeled the entire cart up to the register and bought them all. I know you may not be able to afford that but you don't have to stop with just one pair. The store has them at that price to get rid of them. They don't care who buys them! You never know when you will come across a deal.
2. Buy after holidays. The day after Valentine's Day, many stores have Tootsie Pops, Charms Blow Pops, and Smarties left over and they are priced at 50% off. The day after Easter, you can find stuffed bunnies for 50% off. The day after Halloween, there is always candy at half price. Candy lasts for 3 years without any trouble so you can stock up ahead of time.
3. Buy school supplies in August. In July and August stores in my area have school supplies at crazy low prices. Things like crayons for 25 cents for a 24 count box, spiral notebooks for 17 cents each and many more. I don't pay full price for any school supplies but I always include some in my shoe boxes.
4. Check out the clearance aisles. Most stores have a clearance aisle some where in the store where they put things they want to get rid of at cheap prices. There is usually nothing wrong with these items. They may be out of date or not as popular as was expected. When I go into certain stores, I always check the clearance aisle. I don't always find things that I want but you might be surprised at how often I do.
5. Look for coupons. Harbor Freight has coupons in our local paper almost every week. There are items like screwdriver sets, tape measures, and flashlights that you can get free with the coupon. Sometimes you have to make a purchase to get the free item and sometimes you don't. When I have to make a purchase, I usually buy a small hammer that they always have for $2.99. I use the 20% off coupon that is in the same ad as the free coupon and get the hammer for $2.50. These are great items to go in an older boy's box. There are many other places where you can get coupons for other items too.
6. Check sale ads. Many times you can find good items at really good prices in the sale ads. Often you can also find a coupon that can be used in addition to the sale. Be sure to read the fine print to know the rules for that sale or store.
7. Beg. Ok, well, maybe you won't want to beg but you can ask. Most of us have a dentist that we go to a couple of times a year and we usually give him plenty of our hard earned cash. If you will ask in September and explain what it's for, many dentists will give you toothbrushes and toothpaste for your shoe boxes. I've seen some dentists that will give as many as 100-150 toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste for this. You might need to give them a couple of weeks to get it together but they are usually willing.
8. Make things yourself. You can check out Pintrest and other sites for how to make things and for ideas of things that will go in a shoe box. You would be surprised at how many different types of things that you can make yourself to go in shoeboxes. I know ladies who crochet animals. There are others who sew stuffed animals. There are men who enjoy wood working that make small, wooden cars and trucks for shoe boxes. I am not a seamstress but even I can make a simple skirt to go in a shoebox. Go here to see my directions on how to make a skirt. You can buy pony beads when they are on sale and string them for necklaces for your boxes.
       Other things you can make cheaply.
        finger puppets
        tote bags
        clutch bags
        tic tac toe games
        felt "paper" dolls
        rag dolls
        hair bands/ties
9. Shop at dollar stores. Dollar Tree has everything in the store for $1. Sometimes you need to check out the items to check the quality but they are usually as good as you can get at other stores. There are other dollar stores that don't have everything at $1 but still have some really good buys. One of my favorites is not a dollar store at all but the Dollar Spot at Target. I've found some really good items for shoe boxes for just a dollar at the Target Dollar Spot. I was even lucky enough to find 70% off on certain items (red dot) at my Target not long ago. I got an entire basket full of toys and other items for my boxes for just $75.
10. Check out on line sites and catalogs such as Oriental Trading. Try to order over $45 worth when ordering and you can usually save the shipping. With Oriental Trading you have to buy most things in bulk, like 50 rubber finger puppets for $15 (don't quote me. I don't work for Oriental Trading). There are lots of cool things for kids that you can get there. If you can't buy enough at one time to get free shipping, ask a friend to order things also. Combine your order to one address and you can usually have enough to qualify for free shipping.

Ok. Hope these ideas help to be able to pack more shoeboxes. Yes, I have been told that I am OCD about OCC. I agree 100%. I think about Operation Christmas Child all year round. You don't have to be as obsessive as I am about it but you can still pack several shoe boxes. Remember that every shoe box you pack is a gospel opportunity for a child to hear the good word of Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 17, 2015

It's Your Day

Shouldn't a birthday always be a special time for the birthday person? I think so. I like to make my birthday special. In fact, mine was this past Monday & hubby & I went to Red Lobster for dinner. My dear friend, Marian, thinks that we should all have a birthday month! She celebrates her birthday for the whole month of September!

Materials needed:
Wild About Flowers stamp set (138728)
Wild Wasabi card stock 4 1/4 x  5 1/2"
Slate Gray card stock 3 x 4 5/8"
Lost Lagoon card stock 2 3/4 x 4 1/4"
Sizzix embossing folder (sorry, I can't find the name of this one)
Corner Rounder punch
Modern Label punch SU
1/2" Grosgrain Striped Old Olive ribbon (113883, retired)
Wild Wasabi ink
Primrose Petals ink
It's Your Day stamp SU from a Pumpkin Patch kit
Sponge dauber
Stampin' Dimensionals

1.Run the Lost Lagoon card stock in the embossing folder through your Big Shot machine. Use the corner rounder punch to round all four corners of the blue and the gray card stock.
2. Adhere the Lost Lagoon to the top of the gray card stock Adhere this card stock on to the left side of the Wild Wasabi card stock.
3. Adhere the ribbon to the right side of the Wild Wasabi card stock wrapping around to the back.
4. Use the stamps from the Wild About Flowers stamp set to stamp the image on white card stock. This stamp  is really cool because the flowers are a separate stamp and make it easy to get the flowers a different color. And these flowers fit perfectly on the stems!
5. Cut the image out. Place dimensionals on the back of the image and adhere to the embossed Lost Lagoon card stock. 
6. Stamp the greeting on white card stock with Wild Wasabi ink. Use the Modern Label punch to punch out the greeting. Use the sponge dauber to dab Wild Wasabi ink around the edge of the punched greeting.  
7. Place one dimensional on the end of the greeting, under the word day. Place a small amount of adhesive on the other end. Adhere the greeting across the right side of the card.
8. Adhere the card front to a white card back and add greetings or a special message to the inside.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Masked Birthday

I had fun playing with the different masks that come in the Happy patterns decorative mask set from Stampin' Up! I'm no longer a demonstrator but I still love getting my SU from my friend Janice Kohles at Janice is an army wife with 2 beautiful kids. Her girl, Jazzie, keeps her going on her creativity. Janice is one of the most creative stampers that I know but as Jazzie gets older, she will be outdoing her mom.

I don't see this card as being the most creative but it was fun to do!

Materials needed:
Happy Patterns decorative masks (138313)
White card stock 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" scored and folded at 4 1/4"
Age Awareness stamp set (135381)
Melon Mambo ink
Blue washi tape
Sponge dauber
Stampin' Dimensionals

1. Place the mask over the folded white card stock. Use the sponge dauber to pick up the Melon Mambo ink and place in on the card. Cover the entire card.
2. Stamp the birthday greeting from the Age Awareness stamp set in Melon Mambo ink on white card stock. Cut loosely around the word. Place dimensionals on the back of the word. Adhere it under the happy from the mask.
3. Place a strip of washi tape all the way around the front and inside of the card.
4. Stamp of write a greeting on the inside and send to your favorite birthday person.
This is a simple card to make and doesn't take you super long. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pretty Butterflies

Here is a card I made for a birthday but it could be used for many occasions.

Materials needed:
Happy Patterns decorative masks SU(138313)
Pretty Print textured impressions embossing folder (#13275)
White card stock 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" scored and folded at 4 1/4"
Lost Lagoon card stock 2 3/4 x 4 1/4"
Corner rounder punch
Papillon Potpourri stamp set (123759)
Bitty Butterfly punch (129406)
Elegant Butterfly punch (127526)
5/8" Whisper White Organza ribbon
Mambo Melon ink
Lost Lagoon ink
Blue Washi tape
Sponge dauber
Stampin' Dimensionals

1. Place the Lost Lagoon card stock in the embossing folder and run it through your Big Shot machine. Lay aside.
2. Center the decorative mask on top of the folded white card stock. Use the sponge dauber to pick up Melon Mambo ink from the ink pad. Holding the mask steady, dab the ink on the openings on the mask to place the color on the white card stock. Cover the card stock.
3. Adhere the Lost Lagoon embossed piece to the center of the folded white card stock.
4. Choose 3 butterflies in 2 sizes from the Papillon Potpourri stamp set, Stamp them with Lost Lagoon ink on white card stock.
5. Use the 2 butterfly punches to punch out the butterflies.
6. Wrap the white ribbon completely around the front and inside of the white card stock. Tie in a bow on the front to be on the right side of the card. Use a small amount of adhesive to secure in place.
7. Place dimensionals on the back of the large butterfly and one of the small butterflies. Place the large butterfly just over part of the ribbon on the left hand side. Place one of the small butterflies near the top of the Lost Lagoon card stock and the other below the ribbon. 
Stamp or write a greeting on the inside and send this lovely card to a friend.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dos and Don'ts of Packing a Shoebox

There are many things I have learned the hard way in packing shoeboxes and many other ways that I have listened and learned from others. No pictures today but I hope you will take the time to read all my dos and don'ts to make better shoeboxes.

For years, I insisted on putting liquid or school glue in my shoeboxes. As a retired elementary, I hated glue sticks but really liked the Elmer's glue. I was told not to pack Elmer's but I wasn't told way not for many years. When I finally had the change to volunteer at the Processing Center in Dallas/Fort Worth, I learned why I should not pack the Elmer's. The is liquid and if the bottle gets a hole in it or leaks in any way, it can ruin the entire shoebox. Everything that is in the box can be soaked in glue and not be good for any one! So, let's start with the don'ts since I was so hard headed. lol

1. Don't pack any liquids. No glue, shampoo, hand sanitizer or anything else in liquid form. Not only
can it leak and ruin the whole shoebox, it is possible that it can ruin an entire carton of shoeboxes!
2. No food items or any items that have the word snack on the package. Many customs agents in countries will not allow those so don't put them in.
3. No chocolate. As much as we love it, it can melt and make a big mess in the shoebox. Also, it is considered a luxury in some countries and OCC can be charged a luxury tax on the entire shipment if they find even one piece of chocolate. Yikes! More than $7 for that shoebox!
4. No Camo any thing. Terrorist groups are using all colors of camo items to identify themselves. We don't want the children to accidentally be subjected to any of that.
5. No war toys, no guns, no plastic army men. In some countries, the children have been terrified by local armies and will be frightened by army type of toys.
 I think you should also be careful with our super hero toys also. Many of them look like war or fighting types of items.
6. Don't wait until October or November to start buying items for your shoeboxes. You can find good deals all year round. Plus, it doesn't seem as bad when you buy a little through out the year.


1. Do look for expiration dates. Did you know that toothpaste has an expiration date? I didn't until a few years ago. Look at the crimped end of the toothpaste tube to find the expiration date. Plan on it being at least 6 months out from when you turn in your shoebox. Eleven million boxes can not all be delivered by Christmas time. A few years ago, a customs agent found a tube of toothpaste that was expired. He held up the entire shipment for 6 months before he let it go through with that tube.
2. Do put soap in zip lock bags. I always wrap my bar of soap in a wash cloth. Then I put that in a zip lock and close it. I put that in another zip lock so it is double bagged and seal that. The reason is because soap smells.  A bar of soap just laying in a box for a few weeks will make the entire box and everything in it smell like soap. The candy will taste like soap!
3. Do put any candy in a zip lock bag. This will protect it from smells. Some candy sweats and gets sticky. In a zip lock, it won't get every thing it touches sticky.
4. Do go shopping after holidays. Most candy has several years before it expires (check the dates, though) I usually buy up lots of suckers and tootsie pops after Valentine's Day. They are on sale then for 50% off. I buy assorted candies the day after Halloween. Again, they are on sale at 50% off. You can also find stuffed animals, pencils, and other items on sale after holidays. The day after is usually 50% off. If you wait a few days, whatever is left with be 70-80% or more off. But the longer you wait, the fewer things are available.
5. Be watching in stores, like Wal-Mart, Target, grocery stores, etc for sale items. Also, check the clearance aisles often. You never know what you might find. I found school scissors at 2 for a quarter in April because the store had a new manager and wanted to get rid of things that the previous manager had stored. Also, check out the Target Dollar Spot shelves often. You can find lots of good things for a dollar. Sometimes, you can find them cheaper. Last week, my Target had red dot items at 70% off on the Dollar Spot shelves. I got bunch of art sets for 30 cents each! And yes, I bought them all.
6. If you are or if you know a crafter or a sewer, make things. My sister makes rag dolls. I gave her money for fabric and asked her to make a bunch for me. You can check Pinterest for all sorts of ideas on things to make. Clothes pin airplanes, girls skirts, felt dolls, finger puppets, sewing kits, and fleece scarves can all be found on Pinterest. They are great in shoeboxes and cost next to nothing. I buy fabric remnants to make girls skirts. I can make them for 50 cents or less each.

Next week, I plan to put an article on how to pack multiple boxes without breaking the bank.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Judy's List of What to Pack in a Shoebox

You can find lists for shoeboxes in lots of places so this is just one more. This is also my opinion of what you should pack in a shoebox, Some people may disagree with me and that's ok. The following lists are what I have found in packing shoeboxes for 15 years and in working as a year round volunteer for the past 4 years.

You can pack shoeboxes for a boy or a girl in these age groups:
2-4 years old;
5-9 years old;
10-14 years old.
Yes, it is true that more people pack boxes for girls than boys and more pack for the 5-9 age group than the others. You can pack for whomever you feel God is leading you to pack for.

This girl is carrying her box and boxes for her siblings.

I feel there are 6 groups or types of items that should go in every shoebox. Those are
school supplies,
hygiene items,
clothes, and
other or misc.
I think that it is good to have something from every category in your shoebox. I do this with mine.
School supplies
In many countries, you can not attend school if you do not have your own school supplies.
Composition or spiral notebooks
pencils, sharpeners, erasers
glue sticks
solar calculators for older children
color books for younger children
Hygiene items
Many children in poor countries do NOT have these basic items or they share one with the entire family.
tooth paste
comb and/or brush
Hard candy
Tootsie rolls (no chocolate. Tootsie rolls are not chocolate.)
Tootsie pops
Jump ropes
Balls (kids everywhere love balls)
Stuffed animal (something to cuddle)
Whistles/noise makers
Play doh?? This is something to think about. Often children do not know what play doh is. I had one little girl who wanted to eat it. I was trying to show her how to form it into an animal and she kept opening her mouth. Play doh is non-toxic so it won't hurt them if they do eat it but it won't taste good either. It is also great to work on imagination. I will let you be the judge on whether to pack it or not.
If you pay attention to the sizes and pack according to the age range that are listed, you can come pretty close to items that will fit.
caps/hats/stocking caps
flip flops
underwear (age appropriate, please)
NO CAMO of any color...Even pink camo could be used to identify terrorist groups and we don't want the children to be mistaken for that.
Other items
hair ribbons, bows, barrettes, clips, etc
Older boys
tape measure
screw driver
bungee cords
fishing kits
Older girls
sewing kits
clothes line & pins
1 or 2 yards of fabric

Check back in a few days for dos and don'ts and for how to not break the bank.

Monday, July 6, 2015

What I Learned When Handing out Shoeboxes

I have packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child for 15 years now. I've been a year round volunteer for the past 4 years. I started out working with Church Relations and then, after our wonderful leader went home to Jesus, I became the area coordinator for the Mid-Texas area. I was so privileged this year to be selected to go on a shoebox distribution trip to Tanzania. I could not have been happier or more excited. I returned just over a month ago and while I have posted some of my pictures on here, I haven't shared with you some of the things that I learned. So here goes.

 1. Take the items out of the original packaging. I've had some people ask me "how will they know it's new?" Trust me, kids can tell if something is new or not. Now my reason for saying to take things our of original packaging is that often, it can be really hard to get out! I had one boy ask to to open a package with a harmonica. It had the hard plastic covering that was sealed together. How many 7 years old do you know that can open that? After I opened it for him, he had a great time blowing on it. Another boy asked me to help him open a remote control car. It looked really cool and the person who packed it had included plenty of extra batteries for it too. I had to literally tear the box apart trying to get  it opened. Finally, I had most of the cardboard torn off but it still was not free. When I turned the car over, I found screws going through the box and into the bottom part of the car. No one had a screw driver. I showed the screws to the boy & tried to indicate that it had to be unscrewed. I don't know if he was able to get it out when he got home or not. I do hope so. Here he is with the best I could do on getting the car out.

Another reason to take things out of original packaging is that you can get more items in the shoebox if the throw away packaging is not in the way.
2. Another thing that I learned is that heat is relative to what you are accustomed to. I've heard people say that they didn't want to pack gloves or stocking caps because the box might go to a warm country. The equator goes across the northern part of Tanzania. We were in Dar es Salaam, the largest city there. It's on the eastern coast by the Indian ocean but still only a few hundred miles from the equator. There were some children who were wearing sweaters! You can see 2 boys in blue sweaters in this picture.

When we asked why, we were told that they were cold because there had been a "cold" front come in recently and the temperatures were only in the upper 80's. They were not used to it being that "cool" and so they were cold!
The boys also LOVED the stocking caps!
3. Another thing is that people should fill the shoeboxes! I can fill any shoebox for less than $10 and I have filled them for less than that. And that is with good items, not junk! In another post, I will tell how you can fill a box for less than $5 so be watching. 
  The children were great about not crying or complaining because their box didn't have as much as someone else's but it really hurt me to see a box that was not very full! 
  Ok, you may have heard that they will be filled when they get to the processing center so you don't have to worry about it. Well, that is true BUT the people checking the boxes are volunteers and are human. Some of the volunteers have different ideas about what full it or about what is a good box. I DID see some boxes that we handed out that were not very full. Also, at the processing center, they depend on "filler" items that are sent by the collection centers. Those can run out! Not every collection center sends "filler" items. Most of the filler items are the smaller toys also. Sometimes I have seen some good things for filler but usually it is the smaller toys. Every shoebox should have at least one WOW item in it. 

4. I was able to see that OCC is really a church to church operation. Of course, not all who fill shoeboxes are involved with churches. Many scout groups, schools and clubs fill shoeboxes and we are so happy about that. But most of the shoeboxes are filled through churches. When we handed out the shoeboxes, we went to churches in Tanzania to do that. The churches invited groups from their area or neighborhood to come to the distribution. 
This is the inside of one of the churches where we hand out shoeboxes.

This is a group of children who were excited to be allowed to come to a distribution. This group came from one of the public schools in the area.
By inviting children to come, it allows the church to know who receives a box and to be able to follow up with the child and his/her family after the distribution. Knowing how many children are coming also helps to have the correct number of shoeboxes. It would be terrible not to have enough to give to the children.

5. Shoeboxes DO make a difference in children's lives. A gospel presentation in the children's language is presented to the children before the shoeboxes are handed out. It could be with music and with stories or just with stories but it is always in the language the child speaks and understands. The children are given an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as savior. There is also a booklet called the Greatest Gift that goes with every box. It is in the language of the child also. Here is one of the ones that we handed out in Tanzania.
 This is written in Swallii.
The children who receive a shoebox are also invited to participate in The Greatest Journey program. The Greatest Journey is a 12 week discipleship program written for the children in the language of the child. I got to see one of the lessons while I was there. The children came to the church on a Saturday for this. They were very eager to participate and were happy to be there. They were also very well behaved. I wish that I had taught classes where the children were this excited to learn when I taught in public school. 
Be checking back in a few days and I will have posts on dos and don'ts of packing a shoebox. I will also put up a post with a list of items that are great in shoeboxes and some tips on how to pack several shoeboxes without breaking the bank. And don't forget to include $7 for shipping of the shoeboxes. For more information, go to Samaritan's Purse.