Wednesday, July 24, 2019

How to Host a Shoebox Party

A few years ago I was asked to create an event that the whole family could attend and interact together at. I planned a shoebox party for Operation Christmas Child (OCC).

If you have never heard of OCC, it is a relief program run by Samaritan's Purse. People pack shoeboxes with a variety of small items such as hygeine, school supplies, toys and clothing. OCC sends the shoeboxes all over the world to needy children. You could also make your own shoeboxes and send them to a local shelter or group homes instead of through OCC (just don't use their boxes!).

A shoebox party not only offers something families can do together, it is an event the whole church can participate in, making it an inter-generational event as well as a family event. It gets even better though. One of the things I like best about an OCC Party is that the kids are making something for someone else, not themselves. That makes it a service event as well. So a shoebox packing party is like three events rolled into one.

Organizing the Event:

Our Christmas in July drop off display for shoebox supplies

1.Get the supplies to put in the boxes. Use the OCC website to get up to date ideas and learn what CANNOT be included. Click here to get started.
  • We usually start asking our congregation in late July when school supplies go on sale. Some people collect all year long for us. 
  • We also do some type of fundraiser to obtain money to purchase more items. You can have a field trip to the Dollar Store and give each child a certain amount of money and let them buy things for the event. The youth group could also do this part. Or send someone to the store who is a good bargain hunter. I usually give categories to my "shoppers" of the types of items I want them to purchase.
2.  Shoeboxes: Determine a goal of how many boxes you want to fill

  • Purchase from OCC (they have plastic and cardboard)
  • Or buy plastic ones from the store
  • Or get free ones from shoe stores
3. Rubber bands - you need one to secure each box

4. Labels, scissors, black marker or pen, tape - The labels are included in the How to Pack a Shoebox brochure. You can order them free from OCC here. The scissors are so people can cut the label out that they chose (boy or girl). The marker/pen is to mark the age you chose. The tape is so they can tape the label on the box. We used packing tape because it covers the whole label. (If you chose to track your boxes, then you will pay and print the labels ahead of time. Click here for that link.)


Making a jewelry kit.
1. Decide if you want any DIY stations. You can make fishing kits, jewelry kits, sewing kits or craft items to give as gifts. You can find instructions on how to make these kits and others on Pinterest. Check out my OCC board here. Gather the supplies needed to make these items.

2. Divide all your loot up into categories. We usually have a hygiene table, tool table, school supplies (arts & crafts can be here too unless you have too much), clothing (separated by age and sex), "wow" items (something pretty cool - ONE per box), a table where you can make a homemade card and write a note and the DIY tables where you make your own kits and crafts.

3. Making signs for each table helps people find them better. We also made little maps up of the church.

4. Promote. OCC has free posters. I also made post cards and bulletin inserts to advertise the event. OCC has free graphics you can download.

5. Recruit. You will need plenty of help. You can access my sign up sheet here.

Choice of cards people could make to put in their box.
Writing a note in the shoebox card.

6. Host the event! We included a spaghetti dinner and held the party on a Friday night. We also invited a missionary who had been in Peru when OCC boxes were distributed. She helped everyone to understand what the children had liked there. In particular, the kids wanted her to read the cards and notes that were in some of the boxes. Notice how intent our people were at this station after learning that!

7. Get a group shot at the end for your local paper and celebrate what you did as a team.

Some extra ideas for fun: I had a giant white board and marker. It said "boy" on one side and "girl" on the other. Every time someone made a box, they marked it under the appropriate category. We had a goal to do at least 15 boxes for boys. If they did a "boy" box, they also go to ring the bell by the board. We surpassed our goal.

Making fishing kits.
The "wow" item table
An inter-generational event!

Set up for the spaghetti dinner we had before we packed boxes. We put the labels at each place so people could decide ahead of time who they would make a box for.

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