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Charity begins with a shoebox.
Member Name: Lynsey100
Advantages: A worthwhile cause
The Samaritanís Purse has been running Operation Christmas Child since 1990. It is a simple, yet fantastic idea. Basically, you can fill shoeboxes with small gifts, and the charity delivers them to needy children in 13 different countries including India, Croatia, Swaziland and Mozambique. Last year, the charity delivered 1.8 million shoeboxes. When you think about it, they put smiles on the faces of 1.8 million children, who would otherwise have got nothing.
If this sounds like something you would like to do, then first of all, you have to decide the sex and age of the child you wish to buy gifts for. The age categories are 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14. You must be able to fit everything into a medium sized shoebox, so the presents should be fairly small. The charity suggests that you select from the following items:
A cuddly toy
A wrapped bar of soap and a flannel
A notepad, picture book or colouring book
Crayons, felt pens, pencils and pencil sharpener
A hat, cap, gloves and scarf
A small musical instrument
A small ball or tennis ball
Sweets (at least March of next year sell by date)
Jewellery, hair bands, clip on earrings toy cars or trucks
A greetings card or a small photo of yourself
You should not include any of the following:
Chocolate, crisps or other edible items
War related items (e.g. toy soldiers or guns)
Anything liquid or sharp
Clothing (other than listed above)
Anything of a political, racial or religious nature
Asda and Tesco sell lots of small cuddly toys that are a perfect size and cost only a couple of pounds. You could also buy small colouring books and crayons from the supermarkets that cost next to nothing. The Early Learning Centre sells little musical instruments and puzzles that cost less that £1. It doesnít really take much to fill a shoebox, but I like to cram in as much as possible.
When you put the items into the shoebox, do not wrap them individually. Wrap the box itself in Christmas paper and wrap the lid separately. Donít stick the lid to the box, use an elastic band instead as the boxes have to be checked for customs requirements. You should stick a label to the lid of the box to show the gender and age of the child that the gift is for. If you canít get hold of a Samaritanís Purse leaflet for the label, you can download them from their website www.samaritanspurse.uk.com. The charity asks that you enclose £2 or more towards distribution, transportation and promotion. You can write a cheque made payable to ďSamaritanís PurseĒ and put it into the shoebox, or you can pay online. If you pay online you will be given a code to write on the label, so make sure you take a note of it.
Many churches and schools operate as drop off points, so to find your nearest one visit their website and enter your postcode. If you require a collection, you must have at least 50 boxes, and a school, business or shop address. The boxes are collected between the 4th and 20th of November. Last year my school was a drop off point, and the children were really enthusiastic about the project. We all watched a video produced by the Samatitans showing the gifts being delivered and I confess it made my eyes fill up a little. Children can easily buy little gifts for the shoeboxes with their pocket money, so it doesnít have to be mum and dad that fork out for it all! The children really enjoy choosing the gifts too, and it is lovely to see them thinking about other kids more needy than themselves. It is just the thing that we should be encouraging, especially at this time of year when they are busy writing their mile long christmas lists.
Most people know somebody who is a nightmare to buy for at Christmas. What do you buy the person who has everything? Well, last year I asked a couple of fairly wealthy relatives if I could put together shoeboxes on their behalf instead of buying them something, and they were delighted. They got to choose the gender and age of the children and I did the rest. Oxfam cottoned on to this idea a while ago, and you can buy goats, school dinners and teachers online from them! The thing I love about Operation Christmas Child is that you get to think about what to buy, and go out and get it for yourself. It just seems so much more personal to me. Iíd love to be there to see these children open their presents, the expression on their faces must be priceless.
The helpline for this yearís appeal is 0870 011 2002.
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