Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Egg Nesting Dolls

Oh my goodness! Are these cute?! Just saw these posted at Shoeboxes of Love and I LOVE them!!! What a great idea for using clearance Easter eggs. Or what about the leftover eggs your kids got at Easter that you are about to throw away? I would never have even thought of creating nesting dolls out of Easter eggs! Too fun!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

VBS Time Again!

VBS is underway and again this year, our mission is Operation Christmas Child and the kids are super excited!! They again set a goal of bringing enough items to fill 100 boxes and so far, they have collected enough for 60 boxes! Woohoo!! It is such a blessing to see the kids really get into giving and their carefully thought out items warm my heart! Here is a picture of their pile of items tonight. Can't wait to see it tomorrow! 

And I think my favorite item of the night was these awesome buckets of individually wrapped peppermints! Love it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Unexpected Journey

Last year, I wrote a post about packing hope in a different way. Not just sending shoeboxes with gifts, but packing hope with the missionaries we are sending around the world. Little did I know that shortly after that post, things in my own life would take a huge turn and I am incredibly excited to share with you how God has used Operation Christmas Child and the idea of packing hope to lead my family on a new path.

Operation Christmas Child has been very dear to me for many years. It is one of my favorite things to do each year. Being from a small town, I have never felt more like a part of God's bigger picture than when I am packing shoeboxes for His children around the world. I shop all year for special items for the boxes and look forward to seeing them all laid out on packing day and thinking about the joy that they will bring to a child somewhere around the world that I may never meet.

I will be completely honest, a few years ago, I thought that this was the only way that I could ever hope to impact the lives of these children for God. God has worked in my heart so much over the last two years especially, making me realize that I could do more! Our family's journey began about two years ago when God revealed to both my husband and I that he had a plan for our lives and that it was something that would take a lot of faith. At that time, we had no idea what in the world it would be, but we prayed that God would show us the path that he wanted us to follow and he has done exactly that one step at a time! We began seeking His will for our lives and searching for where he might want us. What did he want us to do? Where would our family with three small children fit into his plan?

God's answer (and it took almost a year and a half of actively seeking) is to become missionaries ourselves. To do what?! Not the answer we expected, but over the year and a half of searching, God had begun to prepare our hearts for change and for following him no matter what. We knew that we would have to take a leap of faith not knowing where we would land, but to become missionaries?! We were content in our typical American lives. After all, being a missionary is for crazy people. Well... call us crazy, because here we go and we could not be more excited!

Last November, when we sat down with some very dear friends of ours and were asked to join them in their ministry at a hospital caring for those with HIV, tuberculosis and leprosy, both my husband and I knew immediately that this is what God was preparing us for. This is an opportunity to be face to face with the children we have grown to love through pictures and stories and packing shoeboxes. This is our chance to impact these children for Christ and to show them God's love in a way that I never thought we would be able to.

I can't wait to love on the children that society has rejected because they have HIV and to teach them and care for them- to let them know that they are loved and accepted by the God who created them. It brings me to tears just thinking about it! What joy my heart feels to know that in a little over a month, I will be standing face to face with the children that have captured my heart!

I would love to share more details with all of my wonderful readers, but for now, I am only able to share this information with you on my blog. If you want to know more, contact me (packinghope@yahoo.com). I am more than happy to share our story with you and tell you about the work we will be doing.

Thank you all for your wonderful support and I look forward to sharing even more with you as soon as I can.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Yard Sale is over and I am beat!! The last few days have been very busy, but totally worth it! We had 17 tables full of stuff when the yard sale started and lots of stuff on the ground lined up along the sidewalk. The yard sale was huge AND it started off with a bang! We had lots of people stop by Thursday while we were still setting up and then Friday, we had people here all day long! This is a small town and I would never have guessed that we would have HUNDREDS of people come through our yard. It was AMAZING!!! 
And when all was said and done, this is all that was left on Saturday!! Enough to fill a few boxes. Thankfully, it didn't take very long to pack up because it started to rain!! Praise God for rain and for the rain waiting until the sale was over! 

We put up balloons during the sale and wore our Operation Christmas Child shirts and had a display set up with more information. It went really well and God blessed our sale in this tiny little town! We ended up making just over $900 for shipping Operation Christmas Child boxes!! ;) YAY!
And if anyone is wondering how my sweet little boy did at his lemonade stand, he did really well! He ended up making $91 towards buying a cow for a family in Pakistan. He is now brainstorming other ideas on how he can earn the rest of the money for his cow. A cow costs $450 total and my little guy is really looking forward to earning the rest of the money and buying a cow for a family in Pakistan to make a living and provide their own family with milk.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gearing Up For YARD SALE Day!

One week left until the Operation Christmas Child YARD SALE! I have been extremely busy preparing stuff for the sale. Collecting, pricing, and going through items, making signs and flyers, getting newspaper ads ready... The list goes on! We have a storage unit that had an enormous amount of stuff in it and I am going through the entire thing collecting items for the sale. We haven't touched most of the things in our storage in three years, so I am ready to get rid of it. I am finding LOTS of BRAND NEW stuff that we just don't need. I am going through every single box and getting rid of it all! Literally more than half of what is in our storage unit right now is going straight to the sale and I am not even finished! Not to mention, I have had at least ten others bring me all of their stuff so far and I fully expect a few more too. This sale is Gonna be HUGE!!!!! It is taking a lot of work, but I know that it will be well worth it! All of the money from the sale will go toward shipping Operation Christmas Child boxes and the more money we make, the more boxes we can send!

So far, there are lots of baby clothes, adult clothes, teaching supplies, furniture, a stove, a TV, LOTS of toys for babies and kids, a stroller, a couple of ride on toys, several baby bouncy seats, children's books, and TONS more! 

The sale is next Friday and Saturday, July 13th & 14th from 8am-4pm (or longer)! I know we need rain desperately, but please pray that it does not rain Thursday, Friday, and Saturday because there is no way that everything at the sale would fit in my house if it started to rain!

Also, my son will have a lemonade stand set up at the sale. He has lemonade, bottles of water, cans of Pepsi, Coke, and Mountain Dew. All of his lemonade stand money will go toward buying a cow for a needy family in Pakistan through Pakistan Christian Ministries. This is something he has been saving up for, and he is earning all of the money to buy a cow by himself. A big venture for a five year old, but he is determined! I love that he has such a big heart!

Look forward to seeing everyone at the sale. Let me know if you want to help or if you have items for the sale. I will be starting to set up Thursday night. I am also in need of a clothing rack or two, a few tarps to cover things with over night and a canopy or two if anyone has any of these we can borrow!

Friday, June 29, 2012

More Flip-Flops! Old Navy $1 Sale June 30th!

On Saturday, June 30th, Old Navy is having a one day only sale on their flip-flops. ONLY $1.00. These are good quality flip-flops. I have them in 4 different colors and practically live in them during the spring, summer, and fall. They last! Great for a shoebox since you never know when or if the child will ever get another pair. Many of them will probably end up wearing them year-round and these definitely stand up to some wear!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Family Dollar: 50 Cent Flip-Flops!

Family Dollar just posted on their facebook page that they have sandals for women, girls, and boys for only 50 cents each until July 8th! Incredible sale! Probably the earlier you get there the better before they are gone. I love putting sandals in the Operation Christmas Child boxes because they don't take up much space and some of the kids have NO SHOES and walk the streets in bare feet. These sandals are so cute. I know any little girl (or boy) who gets a pair would love them!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Alligator Sewing Kit: Perfect for 10-14 Girl Boxes

This is by far one of my favorite crafts to make for the shoeboxes. It is so easy and you can make a lot of them quickly and inexpensively! Last year, I made a bunch to go in the 10-14 girl boxes. I changed a few small details on mine. I didn't use the green puff balls for the eyes, I just glued the eyes straight onto the top of the felt, and instead of sequins for the nose, I just drew two dots with a black permanent marker. I also did not have zig-zag scissors, so I just cut zig-zag teeth with regular scissors. It still looked just like an alligator! And to fill them, I bought larger packages of needles, pins, and safety pins and split them amongst the alligators. I also included several of the small bobbins of thread. I found a 20 pack or so at Dollar General for just $1.00. It had about 20 different colors in it. I placed each alligator sewing kit with extra thread into a ziploc bag and labeled it "sewing kit". 

Here is the link with full instructions on how to make the sewing kit if you would like to give it a try: 

This one is so simple, it would even be a great craft for teen girls to make to put inside the shoeboxes. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Way To Go Kids!!! 120 Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes!

The VBS kids are amazing! As soon as they knew that our mission was Operation Christmas Child, they rallied together and filled the collection bin... overflowing I might add! Altogether, they brought in enough items to fill 120 shoeboxes!!! WOW! We set goals for them at 40, 60, 75, and 100 shoeboxes. They blew those completely out of the water! Their rewards? They got to cover the youth sponsors (Devon, Kevin, and Dan) in syrup, chocolate syrup, bacon bits, and feathers... throw pies in their faces... and then they had to jump into a pool of slime! (Pictures to follow) The kids came up with most of their rewards on their own! GROSS! But they loved it! Way to go kids!

And the part that I love most? Every one of these boxes represents a child that will get a Christmas gift AND hear about Jesus because of the VBS kids!

It's not too late to sponsor one of these boxes to be shipped at $7.00 each! Lisa will be set up in the back of the sanctuary on Sunday or let me know if you want to sponsor a box. We will also have VBS CDs and some soda and candy available at the "6th day of VBS" if you want to help support Operation Christmas Child.
Also, YARD SALE at my house on July 13-14th to raise shipping money for the boxes!

These boxes are not yet packed! We will be packing the boxes with the VBS items and any other items the congregation collects on Sunday November 4th after the church service! JOIN US!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Dollar Tree Shoebox Shopping

I was so excited about some of the items I found in the Lincoln Dollar Tree this week. There are 12 packs of combs which are great for all of the boxes and 4 packs with 3 brushes and a mirror. The mirror can not be sent in the boxes because it's an open mirror, but three brushes for $1.00 is a GREAT price for full size hair brushes. I especially think these would be great for the 10-14 girl boxes.                       

There are some adorable small stuffed animals and some toddler utencil sets with 2 spoons, 2 forks, and a travel case that are ideal for a 2-4 box of either gender!

My favorite sighting though was in the clearance section on the back wall of the store. Sandals with flowers for 50 cents!! and some checkers and snakes and ladders travel games that 5-9 or 10-14 boys or girls would enjoy also marked down to 50 cents!!

VBS Day 3: 37 Boxes!!!!

Oh my goodness! Kids, you are astounding! It was awesome to see the collection bin overflowing tonight with shoebox items! So far, there are enough items to fill 37 shoeboxes! That is 37 children that might otherwise receive NOTHING that will now get a wonderful gift, thanks to you!
Don't forget you can sponsor a box (or more than one)  at the registration table for $7.00. That covers the shipping cost for the box and the Biblical storybooks that the children receive with their box.

There is also soda, candy, and VBS music CDs available. Come to the park and purchase these items to help support Operation Christmas Child!

VBS day 2: 10 Boxes

Day 2 of VBS and the kids have brought in 10 shoeboxes worth of items! It's so exciting to see some of the things they are picking out for the shoeboxes!
Here's our meter. Prizes at 40, 60, 75, and 100 boxes!!
 And here's the collection box for our items! Bring your toys, shool supplies, and essentials and place them here so we can count them up!! You kids are awesome!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

VBS In Full Swing!

VBS is in full swing and our collection for Operation Christmas Child Items has begun! Even though most of the kids did not know what our mission was, we collected enough items for 3 boxes ;) Yay! Thanks kids. That's three children who will receive Christmas gifts from you. Can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

Don't forget, at the registration desk, you can sponsor a box or as many as you want for $7.00 each! That will cover shipping the box where it needs to go and the Biblical materials that are included with each box. Let's see if we can reach any of our goals of 40, 60, 75 or 100 boxes this week! Prizes at each level!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dollar Tree Shoebox Items

Dollar Tree is a great place to shop for items for Operation Christmas Child boxes. I like to pick up at least one item for a shoebox everytime I go in because it's only $1.00! I can usually spare that with ease! Recently, I was looking and came across some great items. My favorite is the 5 pack of toothbrushes with caps! Only $1.00! That's only 20 cents for each toothbrush.
I also really liked the GIANT Coloring and Activity Pads because they were about an inch thick with coloring pages, but they are the half size coloring books that would fit really well on the bottom of a shoebox without having to be bent.
There were LOTS of other items that can be included in the shoeboxes! Since everything is $1.00 at Dollar Tree, you can go wild in there and not spend much :) Some of my other Dollar Tree favorites include the small stuffed animals, small footballs and bouncy balls, and slinkys. You can also generally find a small selection of tools, and sewing and craft supplies that make great additions to the 10-14 boxes.  

Dollar Tree is a great place to take the kids with a shoebox and let them buy items to fill their shoebox or let them buy a grocery bag full of items to donate for the boxes for packing day. Take this list of Suggested Items with you if you are not sure what to get!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Water Bottles and Backpacks

As we prepare for VBS next week, I wanted to give you a few ideas of some items on sale now that would be great additions to the Operation Christmas Child boxes. Since we are collecting OCC items for VBS, I thought this would give you some ideas if you want to shop before VBS week. I was at Walmart this weekend and found these awesome water bottles for only 98 cents. My favorites were the ones with a shoulder strap because many of the children have to walk miles just to get water. This would give them a container that's easy to carry back and forth.
There was also a great 97 cent section at Walmart. There were notepads and toys and totebags, and these drawstring backpacks that are absolutely adorable and would fit so nicely into a shoebox and won't take up a lot of space leaving LOTS of room for other items ;)

Friday, June 8, 2012

There Are Gonna Be Some Clean Kids!!

Today, I set out to collect 100 empty shoeboxes and a few bars of soap. Within the first hour, I had 103 empty shoeboxes thanks to the guys at Tradehome on the Bloomington mall who have been saving them!
I also figured since I was headed to town, I would stop at a few hotels to see about getting some bars of soap for our boxes. So, with six letters in hand explaining who we are and what we are doing, I began my journey. First two stops, no manager available. Third stop, 80 bars of soap!! Yay! Fourth stop, no manager. Fifth stop, JACKPOT! The Marriott in Bloomington just switched brands of soap and had several cases of soap that they can no longer use. Over 700 bars of soap!! You read that right, 700!!!! They were so excited to give them to me because they were going to have to get rid of them. They are the small hotel bars, so we can put several in each box! I am so overwhelmed and overjoyed! There is more than enough soap for 200 boxes ;) I am so excited!
Thank you Tradehome Shoestore and Marriott Hotel for your generous donations!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Save Your Happy Meal Toys!!

It's Summer! The kids are out of school and now we are responsible for feeding them lunch every day. I know as a busy mother, myself, that often times, it's easiest to just get them a kid's meal at a fast food restaurant and they can eat in the car on the way home so that you don't have to cook when you get home! Many of us also go on vacation and plan to eat on the road so we can get to where we are going faster, but what do you do with all of those Happy Meal toys that you really don't need or that your child plays with once in the car and decides they are done with?


Those little toys that often take up too much space and we put in a box marked "FREE" at our yardsales just to get them out of our house can bring so much joy to boys and girls around the world, many of whom have never had a single toy of their own.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our VBS Mission

I am very excited to announce that the mission for VBS this year will be Operation Christmas Child!!! The kids will be collecting items to fill boxes. They will also be watching videos and learning more about Operation Christmas Child during mission time. It's so much fun to see the kids get excited about giving to other kids. I can't wait until VBS!!!! Now, to find and wrap 100 shoeboxes in the next two weeks... or get 100 shoebox tubs donated... ;)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Packing Hope in a Different Way!

I want to present to you, a unique way to pack hope... Missionaries! I know that for the most part, I focus on Operation Christmas Child on this blog, but God has laid a few things on my heart that I would love to share with you.

When I think about packing hope in a tiny shoebox and sending it to an unknown child somewhere in the world that needs God, it makes me cry because it is such a tiny thing to do to let the orphaned, down-trodden, war torn children know that God loves them and cares about them regardless of who they are and what they have been through! With each of the boxes, the children are given an opportunity to learn more about Jesus and many are invited to churches for the first time. The gift goes far beyond just a little shoebox full of gifts and often can change the lives of children who receive them. With missionaries, we are sending hope in the form of a person to share God's love with those individuals. They are armed with knowledge, tools, and talents to do God's work and minister to those who need it. They don't just invite people to church, but they go out and meet the needs of the individuals and share God's word and his love with them where they are!

Last week, Dan & Christi Ucherek came to speak at our church during the Sunday school hour. They are currently preparing to head to Guatemala to minister to orphans at Eagle's Nest International. They will be helping to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of these children. We send shoeboxes hoping that one life might be changed by the love of Jesus Christ, but what about sending a missionary??! Someone who can potentially change MANY lives by showing them the love of Jesus. Can you help send some loving Christian people to a foreign country to share the love of Jesus with children who have no families and a community in need of God's love? Dan & Christi have a heart for Jesus and his people and a heart for orphaned children and widows and they are willing to take a step out on faith and follow where God leads them to share the Gospel! I encourage you to read their blog (http://godetchedyourname.blogspot.com/), PRAY for them and the people they will be ministering to, stay up to date with their journey on facebook, and also to help financially to send them to Guatemala!

Currently, as Dan & Christi are preparing to go, they are still in need of quite a bit of their funding. Someone has offered to match all funds raised by Tuesday night (5/15) up to $2000. That means whatever you donate in the next 24 hours is DOUBLED!! Please help them with any amount you can to reach the $2000 because it will then be doubled to $4000! CLICK HERE to get to their donation page online. You can then click "DONATE" where you will be given the opportunity to make a one time gift or set up for a monthly gift if you would like to continually support them. They are still in need of around 65 or so people to give $30 monthly to help support them. Are you one of those people??!
**UPDATE: They have reached their $2000 goal (doubled to $4000!) And another donor offered to match another $1000!! THEY HAVE REACHED BOTH OF THOSE GOALS, but still need quite a bit of their monthly support! You can still give**

Please help send HOPE to Guatemala in the form of a willing family of MISSIONARIES!

Over the next few weeks, I will also be highlighting the work of some of the other missionaries that we support and how you can support them too because we pack hope with every missionary we send!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Saving/Shopping Year Round For Shoeboxes

This year, our church's shoebox goal is 200! To some, it may seem lofty, but I think we can do it! Last year we sent 167 boxes. The year before, 120. Two years ago, 80. And 3 years ago, 40.

So, how do we afford the shipping cost and items to fill 200 boxes? For my family, It was hard at first. Just to find wiggle room in our budget to send our family's 4-5 shoeboxes ($28-$35) was a difficult task just before Christmas. Let alone having any left over to help pay for shipping boxes at the church. And we still needed to fill the boxes which can become pricey!

Our solution:
To save up some money for shipping costs, we decided to put a jar on the counter for our loose change. I cut the picture off of one of the Operation Christamas Child brochures and taped it to the front of the container to remind us what we are saving our change for (Beautiful children around the world that need God's love). After Christmas, we started putting ALL of our loose change in the jar whenever we come home. I don't keep any change in my pockets or my purse. It all goes straight into the jar! When I took it to the bank a few weeks ago because the jar was getting full, there was $81 in the jar!! Holy cow! I had no idea that little container could hold so much money. I also had no idea that we had that much spare change. I have started occasionally throwing in one dollar bills now, too, because I've realized how quickly the money adds up!

Another solution we have come up with, is to occasionally write an extra check for $7 (enough to pay for shipping one shoebox) and put it in the offering plate  at church with Operation Christmas Child on the memo line since we send the boxes from the church. $7 is a small amount that we can usually find in the budget. By cutting the amount of fast food stops we make, it has left extra wiggle room for extra giving. If we put an extra $7 in the offering plate each week of the year, it would be $364 enough for shipping 52 shoeboxes. We couldn't do that all at once! If four people commited to putting an extra $7 in the offering plate every week designated for Operation Christmas Child, it would pay for all 200 boxes and then some!

As for items to fill the boxes, we have come up with a few great ways to make our money stretch:

1. Clearance- After every holiday, I watch the clearance items like a hawk. At first, I didn't enjoy taking extra time in the store with three screaming boys to look for clearance items, but I have found that making it the first isle I go to in the store helps tremendously with that issue. When clearance is 50%-75% off, I may pick up a few items, but I don't go overboard. At this price, I will pick up the items that are a great deal, that I don't think will still be there at 90% off. Otherwise, I wait until the holiday clearance is marked 90% off to pick up items for the shoeboxes. Dollar General and Walmart are the two stores I have the best luck with for this. I am usually able to get several bags full of items for just a few dollars. Clearance sales have become one of my best friends! I can get a lot more for the shoeboxes this way.

2. Coupons- For items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap, I watch for sales and match them up with coupons I have. I try not to pay more that .25-.50 for each of these items. I can usually get them free (+tax). Clip With Purpose and Mummy Deals highlight each week items that are on sale and coupon matchups for products that can be used to fill shoeboxes. They are both GREAT resources for helping to fill the shoeboxes on a budget.

3. Back to School Sales- I only buy school supplies for the boxes at back to school time when I know they will be at their lowest price. I can usually get 10 packs of pencils for .19, crayons for .25 or less/box, and glue sticks for .20/2pk. I also like to pick up rulers, pens, markers, notebooks, and pencil sharpeners during back to school sales. If I purchase them any other time of the year, I usually pay at least 50% more for these items, so I try not to do that.

4. Free Samples- Don't throw away free samples of products just because you won't use them yourself! Many of them can be put in the shoeboxes. I like to watch for offers for free samples that I know can be put in the shoeboxes and then sign up for them. They don't cost me anything except a few moments to fill out my address. If you go to a job fair or convention with lots of booths, they usually give out a lot of free things like pens, pencils, water bottles, reusable bags, etc. Save these for the boxes!

5. Look Around Your House- Occasionally, you will buy things that you never end up using or you get a gift that you really don't need or want. A lot of these can be used in the shoeboxes and since you already have them, they don't cost you a thing!

6. One Thing at a Time- Everytime you go to a store, any store, try to pick up a single item to go in a shoebox. A dollar toy, a tube of toothpaste, a pack of gum... THEY ADD UP! How many times do you walk into a store during a single week? A month? A year??! By picking up one item at a time, you spread out the cost and make it less of a hit to the bank to fill lots of boxes. (Or even just one box) When you go into a store and you are standing at the checkout counter, grab a pack of 25 cent gum. The items do not have to be expensive. If you go to multiple stores in a day, why not grab an item at each of them? Even if you don't buy an extra item EVERY time you go into the store, by even occasionally picking up an extra item to put in the shoeboxes, you can fill a shoebox quicker than you know!

7. Homemade Items- This is one of my favortites!  I especially enjoy when I can include my boys in making items for the boxes. If you need ideas for homemade items, check out my pin board on Pinterest for Operation Christmas Child Craft Ideas. In the late summer or in the fall, I am hoping to hold a church crafting day for shoebox items. I have been gathering items and supplies for it, and will set everything up so that there will be ways for all ages to help make homemade items for the shoeboxes. I crochet, scrapbook, and sew, so I love to be able to use my talents to make special items for the boxes. You may also consider gathering a few of your extra supplies and create a craft kit or a few of them for boxes (squares of scrapbook paper, extra material, beads, buttons, stickers, ribbon, yarn) If you craft, you probably have a few things you could put in a ziploc bag to make a kit.

Have any other ideas?? Please feel free to share them with us! How do you afford to send boxes on a budget?

Oh, and just in case you are wondering about the container with a cow on it, my 5 year old son has decided that he would like to purchase a cow for Pakistan Christian Ministries to donate to a family so that they can have milk for their family and make a little money by selling milk from the cow. His goal is $450 (the cost of a cow). He puts the money he earns in that jar, so he can save up to donate a cow.  Such a sweet heart my boy has!