Monday, July 20, 2015

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.

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