So, where do you get stuff to fill Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes? Especially if you are on a budget? Well, here are some of my ideas.
1. Parades – At parades you can get all sorts of items for free from t-shirts, frisbees, candy, hats, pens and more.
2. Kids Birthday Parties – After a birthday party children often come home with a goodie bag. Things that your children do not want, or will not use, may be good for the boxes. Some items may include: pencils, plastic rings, plastic ruler with the tracing shapes, plastic cups, slinky’s, candy, etc.
3. Business – You will often walk into a business and they will have items with logos on them for the taking. Now I do not advise picking up the whole pile. However, taking one pen, keychain or other item is usually fine.
4. Restaurants – If your child already has the toy that they comes with their meal, or will not play with the one they get, these can be added to the boxes. If there is a toy you really like you may ask the manager about buying extras at the end of the promotion. He/she may sell them to you inexpensively. If the restaurant has little boxes of crayons to color with and they give you a box for each child, then have your child share and take the other box home for OCC.
5. Garage sales – Sometimes you can find new things at garage sales that would be appropriate for the boxes.
6. Facebook//Craigslist – People will often sell things they want to get rid of cheaply. For instance I found someone selling a pencil case with new pencils, pens and puzzle books for a couple bucks last year.
7. Relatives – Let your relatives know what you are doing and ask them to save things for you. For years my sister saved her extra fast food toys for me to use in a prize box at work. Someone who travels may bring home soaps or sewing kits.
8. Sunday School/Religious class – I saw a craft that a church was going to be doing with a class and mentioned that if they had extra I had a use for them. Sure enough they had one or two that they did not want to keep for the future. They are now in my OCC bin.
9. Easter Egg Hunts or Trick or Treating – Most things your children do not want would be good for the boxes. (Please skip anything with ghosts, monsters, etc.)
10. School – Children often come home with candy or trinkets that they have no interest in and would be good to add to the boxes.
11. Pick up change you see on the ground. You can use it to buy bouncy balls from Old Navy or the machines just inside the grocery store doors. What child doesn’t love a bouncy ball? You could buy something else instead.
Operation Christmas Child asks that candy (no chocolate) be put into every box. I have heard some folks say they do not add candy because they see pictures of children with very few teeth. The lack of teeth can be from lack of nutrition and lack of dental care…not how much candy they are getting. Many of these children never get candy any other time. If you do not add candy to the box, then when OCC checks the boxes to make sure everything is appropriate they will add candy to the box. (Remember to double bag all candy.)
Next time I will give more ideas of what to put in the boxes.