Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pencils! Pencils! Pencils!

Often times, we can take for granted something as simple as a pencil, but for some of the children who recieve Operation Christmas Child boxes, pencils are not so easy to come by. Some of these children are not even allowed to go to school unless they have a pencil!! That just blows my mind! I feel like it is something small we can add to the boxes that could be HUGE to the children that receive our boxes. It could mean the difference between getting an education or being refused an education because they don't have a writing utencil.

I urge you to consider picking up a package of pencils this week! We would love to have AT LEAST ONE pencil in every box, but it would be so awesome to put several in each box. That way they have plenty for themselves or to share with their friends or siblings. We have a few packages that have been put in the collection bin already, and I would love to see more! Dollar General has 10pks of pencils .50 this week, and Dollar Tree has 24pks for $1 all the time! I am sure lots of other places still have them really cheap right now too. Please consider picking up some pencils (or searching your house for some unused ones!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seeing Red! Current Clearance Toys for Boxes

One of the best ways that Dan and I have found to make our money go farther for Operation Christmas Child is to hit sales especially clearance sales. The first few years our church packed OCC boxes, we went shopping right before packing day at Dollar Tree and spent $20. We got 20 items. This year, we have been hitting up clearance sales all year and our $20 bought so much more!

Just this past week, we headed to Walmart in Lincoln to see what they had on clearance and ended up leaving with a pretty good haul. They have a ton of clearance items that are great for Operation Christmas Child. Here is a picture of what we picked up. We got a total of 21 items for 50 cents a piece. We got beach balls, jacks, sticky hands, finger bowling, and sidewalk chalk. They also had jump ropes and playdough on clearance. If you head to Lincoln Walmart, you may want to grab a few things. At .50 each, you can get some great items for the boxes. Think about how much joy they will bring to a little boy or girl!

You may also want to check out Dollar General in Atlanta. They have a bin of clearance toys for about .50 each too. Every so often they will mark the bin an extra 50% off making the toys .25!! Last time they marked it down, we picked up 64 items for $18 including tax!

Friday, August 12, 2011

More Than Just a Shoebox!

It's that time of year again! It's time to start collecting for Operation Christmas Child. We have put out the bin in the ramp room and we encourage everyone to start bringing in items as they purchase them!

Those who know me, know that I have a heart for children, and my heart breaks knowing that there are so many children out there with so little while here I am sitting in my air-conditioned home with plenty of food to eat, safe drinking water, and a roof over my head. God has blessed my family very generously and he has always provided what we need. I am glad to say that my boys have never had to go without, but I know that's not the case in other parts of the world. As Americans, we are spoiled! I feel that it is time to give back to God and give generously as he has done for me!

Ten years ago this November, I was introduced to Operation Christmas Child, and even though I helped pack boxes, I didn't exactly understand it. Three years ago, the children's Sunday School classes decided to take on Operation Christmas Child as a project!! I was so excited! I offered to help pack boxes. That first year, we packed 40 boxes. The second year, we packed 80 boxes. And last year, we ended up with over 120 boxes!! We had a lunch after church and opened up the packing party to anyone in the church who wanted to be a part of it. This year, we will also be having a packing party after church and inviting the entire congregation to join us in packing boxes and praying over them.

After packing boxes last year, I thought a lot about the children who would receive those boxes. 122 kids were going to be receiving a gift box full of little toys and essentials and lots of love from our church family. Samaritan's Purse offers every child who receives a shoebox a chance to learn more about Jesus. The children are given Gospel storybooks with their shoeboxes. They are invited to a twelve lesson discipleship program where they learn about Jesus and his immense love for them. They learn who Jesus is, what it means to follow Him, and how to share the message with others. After they complete the program, each is given a certificate and a New Testament in their own language. This may not seem like much to us, but to God, it's huge. "'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:40) These children are getting MUCH more than just a shoebox full of gifts. They are getting the hope of eternal life with Jesus Christ!

For many of these children, life is rough. A lot of them live in orphanages or without homes. They come from war torn and deadly disaster areas, but with a small shoebox gift, we can show them that they are not forgotten! That they are loved by a God who loves them unconditionally! For some children, these are the only gifts they will ever receive. What better gift than one that comes with the knowledge and hope of an everlasting Savior!

I urge everyone to prayerfully consider giving to this ministry in order to bless children around the world and introduce them to God Almighty who will never leave them or forsake them!

Please check back here often for frequent updates on Operation Christmas Child! Also, check out the "Suggested Items" tab at the top of this page for ideas of what to pack in the boxes and what not to. Packing Day is right around the corner, Sunday, November 13th! Mark the calendar!