Parents often look for ways to teach children about helping others. From donating food and clothing to hands-on help in food kitchens and at food banks, children can learn to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
Operation Christmas Child uses gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God's love to children around the world.
During National Collection Week, Nov. 18-25, shoebox gifts will be collected at more than 3,500 collection sites in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, has collected and delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries.
As Operation Christmas Child prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, another 9.8 million shoebox gifts will be collected in 2013.
In addition to packing shoebox gifts for National Collection Week, you can pack shoeboxes online year-round. Go to the website and select "Build a shoebox online" to pack your shoebox.
More than 500,000 volunteers help with Operation Christmas Child around the world, including more than 100,000 in the United States.
Operation Christmas Child gifts are collected in Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Packing parties are being held during the month of November in homes and at churches around the world.
Here's how to pack a shoebox gift. Start with an empty cardboard or plastic shoebox. You can order boxes from Operation Christmas Child or use any sturdy box with a lid.
Decide if your gift will be for a boy or a girl and the child's age category. Shoebox gifts can be packed for children ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14.
Download and print the correct boy or girl label, mark the age category on the label and tape the label to the top of your shoebox.
Fill your shoebox with gifts, school supplies, personal hygiene items and accessories. You can add a personal note and a photo of yourself and your family if you wish. If you include your address, the child who receives the box may write back to you.
Please don't include used or damaged items; war-related items including guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; outdated candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items including snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.
Some gift items you may include are stuffed animals, dolls, toy trucks or cars, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos and other small items.
Accessories you may include are T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches and flashlights.
At the website, you can donate $7 shipping to follow your shoebox gift around the world to a child in need. You can also include a check with your shoebox gift to cover shipping costs if you prefer.
You can find a local collection center at the website or call 1-800-353-5949 to find the site closest to your home. Building shoebox gifts together is a great way for families to help others.
Helping others is a great way of teaching compassion. Kids learn from watching, but they learn even more by doing for others. Make Operation Christmas Child a part of your family's November this year.