I had been gathering items since August when quality school supplies are dirt cheap. Along the way, I also picked up full-size toothpastes, toothbrushes and soap for free. After speaking with a friend who is heavily involved in Operation Christmas Child and learning that some children never have a toothbrush and others may share one toothbrush between fifteen or more children, I knew I would be putting extras in each box.
Then a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I headed out on a Saturday evening to finish grabbing the other items that would go in the boxes. I had some thoughts of what I wanted to get, but I also prayed that God would lead me to specific items for each box. I wanted the boxes to be special and personal for the child receiving it.
That night, I finished packing the shoe boxes (well, actually they were plastic storage boxes I purchased for.74 each at Krogers). Printed off the mailing labels, signed up to receive a notification of what country our box was sent to and sealed them up to take to the drop-off center.
So far we have received a notice of at least one box going to Zimbabwe and one box going to Mali. Only God could have made that possible. I have always had a special place in my heart for Zimbabwe and hope to visit there someday. My husband has regular interaction with a church that sends hospital supplies to Mali.
I mention this ministry now because it is a great time of year to get toys on sale or other items marked down for clearance. Their website has a very easy to follow list of instructions and ideas for what can and cannot go in each shoe box.
Personally, I am going to make a list of the items that I plan on putting in next year's boxes so that I can have it with me when I am out shopping. Some items I may not get until after I have prayed specifically for each child, but other items will be pretty standard for our boxes and I can grab those throughout the year.
Shoe boxes can be filled fairly inexpensively and will bring immeasurable joy to the child who receives it.