Pack Your Shoe Box before Your Beach Bag

School is out and summer has officially arrived!

It’s the time for sleeping in, diving in, sun-scorched days at the ball field, and long trips in the family minivan. So gear up, and get ready to head out!

But wait! Before building that sand castle, what about building God’s kingdom? Rather than rushing to pack your beach bag, why not first pack a shoe box?

Each year, Samaritan’s Purse sponsors Operation Christmas Child, a project that collects gift-filled shoe boxes for children in need. Download a promotional video or create your own to share with your group or church.

If leading the effort for your church, present a short drama about the joy of packing a shoe box. Include testimonials from GAs and RAs or CAs and Mission Friends. Display a decorated Christmas tree in your church foyer or fellowship hall. Place shoe boxes under the tree for church members to pick up and fill up.

Or hold a collection drive for shoe box items. If involving the entire church, place bins around the building for members to drop off items 365 days a year. Encourage group or church members to stock up when they go to the local store. Remind them to look for universal items, not those specific to American children; avoid battery-operated toys; and think about different climates and challenging living conditions. Or ask them to make wooden toys like cars or other crafts like hairbows.

Take the project outside your church by asking group or church members to pass out grocery sacks around their neighborhood. Attach a promotional flyer to each bag. Instruct recipients to fill a bag with various items and leave it on their front porch for pickup at a designated time. Or host a neighborhood picnic and invite neighbors to pack and wrap shoe boxes.

Instead of items, collect change. Decorate an Operation Christmas Child change jar. Encourage group or church members to clean out their pockets every Sunday in June and drop their change in the jar. Use the collection to purchase shoe box items.

Then throw a packing party. Grab your leftover Christmas giftwrap and create invitations to a shoe box packing and wrapping party. Or write a rap and perform it as you announce the “wrapping” party to your group or church. Design handmade cards to insert into each shoe box. Reserve a secure place to store the packed boxes until they are delivered to the drop-off location later in the year.

Consider volunteering with your group at the closest collection site during National Collection Week, the third week in November. Contact your regional office to reserve a date to serve.

Make this summer a “missions memorable” one by answering God’s call to serve!

No matter the season or destination, Joanie Ballard longs to answer God’s call to join Him at work.

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