Day 9 – Pack a Shoebox…or 12

Before I even get out of the gate, understand me very clearly:

I’m not some big fancy do-gooder.

I do not donate our used towels to animal shelters.

I do not visit the elderly or clean their gutters.

Not only do I never give to PBS fund drives, I groan and flip the channel as soon as they start in about it.

I do have high-minded intentions occasionally, and I do think sweet charitable thoughts every now and then. But in practice, eh. I’m not so hot at it.

But here’s the one thing I get ROWDY about: I PACK SHOEBOXES.  It is my one burst of awesome do-gooding for the year, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.


This is one of my favorite pictures – my kiddos with the 222 shoeboxes collected from our church last year.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the quick 411.

Samaritan’s Purse (the ministry run by Franklin Graham) is absolutely everywhere doing amazing things for people all over the world – be they victims of disaster or dread disease. They also run a project called Operation Christmas Child – which sends jillions of shoeboxes packed with toys, toiletries, and candy to kids in desperate situations all over the world every year. They take these boxes by camel and canoe and yak into some pretty far-flung places. I mean, they go everywhere.

And here’s the gyst of what happens. These children end up with a shoebox gift in their hands, mysteriously given to them from someone halfway around the world, someone who doesn’t know them or speak their language. But that someone loves them and is praying for them.


Lucy is writing notes to the kid who gets our box.

Many of these children have never gotten a gift. Like, ever. But when they do, many of them are so blown away by it that they keep coming back to the kind people at the church where they got their gift. And they discover what it is to be loved. And what it means to have hope. And their lives are changed. Eternally.


Sure, it’s just random stuff in a box that means zip to us – a toothbrush, a notebook, a bar of soap, some pencils, a Beanie Baby.

But I can’t count the number of times I’ve read that a child had prayed specifically for a doll with black hair or a pair of shoes so they could walk to school, and that was exactly what they found when they opened the lid. As if it weren’t an accident. As if Someone knew every one of their deepest hearts’ desires.

This project is so easy. It’s so fun to do as a family. But it’s so much more than that.

It’s amazing to me that such a little easy fun thing is capable of such great big transformative things.

So that’s Day 9 of my 31 Days of Fun Stuff for Families:  Pack a shoebox. Or a dozen shoeboxes. (Here’s the link that tells you exactly what to do.)

The kids really get into it, picking out the perfect things, packing it all up just so. And we all know our kids could use more do-unto-others moments in their all-about-me lives.


Trust me, you’ll get major warm fuzzies doing it. And you’ll get major do-gooding points.

And oh yeah, there’s a little life out there that you could touch with love and hope and promise for the future. WITH A BEANIE BABY IN A BOX.

I mean, how could you not?


THIS is a little girl in Zambia holding a box we sent. CAN YOU STAND IT?! (A volunteer with Operation Christmas Child saw our address on the card and mailed us this picture. Her name is Mercy. LOVE.)

P.S. National Collection Week is November 17- 24 (check here for your nearest drop-off site and the times they’re open). For my CT local yokels — oh man, it can’t get any easier! Christ Lutheran Church in Niantic is a drop-off site!  WOO!

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