Friday, November 07, 2008


How you get involved in Operation Christmas Child depends first on your location.

Each nation that sends boxes has it's own website with it's own rules and so on.
So your best bet is to check there first, then take my rules as a "general" list of what to do.

United States
Australia (New Zealand comes under their office)
United Kingdom

If you live in one of those countries, you can take part in sending a box.
Next you'll need to source your shoebox. For us that is a matter of just walking into any shoe shop and asking "please may I have an empty box". If your situation is anything like ours, businesses pay for their refuse to be taken, so if they give you a box that's one less they have to pay to dispose of!

Wrap your box in bright paper, it doesn't matter if it's not Christmas paper, just keep it bright and cheerful! be careful how you wrap it, remember these boxes are getting shoved into cartons next to other boxes and any loose bits of paper have a tendency to rip. If in doubt spray paint a box with gold paint. That was a new one to us this year, but they look so good. I have a can to spray some of our empty boxes at the depot but MUST go get a face mask first, I got a bit light headed after 2 boxes last time, heeheee.

I understand that one of the nations is actually giving out boxes, but I'm not sure which. These come printed with the instructions on the inside of the box. You pay your "donation fee" to get your box, for the rest of us that "donation fee" will come later.
The rest of us will need to either get hold of a leaflet OR go onto the website for OUR OWN NATION and find the page about packing boxes.

This is because the list of acceptable and unacceptable items is slightly different for each of us.

For instance, this link takes you to the United States "How to pack a box" page.
And this one to the United Kingdom "What to Pack in a box" page.

One obvious difference is that the United States can send t-shirts and underwear. United kingdom is only supposed to send socks. Also items with batteries are fine in the US, but are on the "general" NO list for the UK. However, some depots will be able to send battery items because of where their lorry is going to.

But here's the thing,
IN GENERAL if you want to pack a reasonable box try and include something from each of the following 4 areas.
  1. Something to Love - that's the toys of all sorts. Make up, hair accessories, etc.
  2. Something to Do - that's the pens, pencils, colouring books, note pads, and so on.
  3. Something to Use - that's the soap, flannel, other acceptable toiletries, NO liquids and please check before putting toothpaste in, some nations are OK with it, others aren't.
  4. Something to Eat / Wear - sweets (check your website for the use by date they need to have), hats, scarves, gloves, socks, ties for the older boys, head scarves for the older girls.
If you include at least something from each of those sections that is a well rounded box.

You will need to choose whether your box is going to a boy or a girl and which age range it will go to. We have 2-4 year olds, 5-9 year olds and 10-14 year olds. If the clothing items in your box don't fit directly within one of those age bands it is not good scribbling off the ages on your label and writing your own in. It HAS to go into one of those because of the processes at the other end! So choose your age range based on the average contents of your box, or better still choose your age range first and shop accordingly.

You want to pack your box so that it is full enough not to collapse in transit but not so overfull that it explodes when we take the elastic band off.

The last thing you need to do before attaching your elastic band is pay your "donation". This covers the cost of transporting the boxes to their destinations. In the UK that is £2.50 this year for each box. Please fill in your details on the envelope provided on the leaflet and insert either a cheque or cash. BETTER STILL, please please please, if your nation allows you to pay online (I KNOW UK and US does, haven't checked the others), do that, the system will give you a code number to write in a space on your leaflet, which you then pop in the top of your box.

Wrap it around with an elastic band and take it to your nearest drop off point!

If you don't know where your nearest drop off point is, please go to your nations website and there should be somewhere for you to enter your location and it will tell you where to go!

Take it to your drop off point and the rest is up to us!

If you want to get involved there are plenty of opportunities, particularly in those locations that have OCC depots, or checking centres, check out the "how to volunteer" page of your nations website!

I THINK I have covered everything, but please, ask questions!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

13 reasons to pack a shoebox

  1. And I have saved my personal favourite until last. I just love the look on this little guy's face.

Go check out other Thursday 13 participants.
But please leave a comment so I know you dropped by.

Wordless Wednesday

No words, just a picture!

Then, head on over to the Wordless Wednesday main page and join in etc

OCC video

In between my main posts written by me, I'll include a few OCC videos from the last few years.

First Two Days of Depot

Well, we officially opened on Monday with 3 training sessions and by the time I left yesterday we were looking like we might run out of boxes because no one wants to bring them in yet! PLEASE if you are in our area and have been packing boxes, BRING THEM TO US AT THE DEPOT! (you can fin the address of the depot by entering your postcode into the drop off point finder on the OCC website)

We are also getting through our "fillers" at a scary rate! Fillers are all the extra items that we source for a depot, to go into boxes that aren't quite full. We cannot send boxes that are not full because they need to be firm in order to stand up to the weight of the other boxes stacked on top of them in the carton, and the other cartons stacked on top of that one on the pallet, and the other pallet stacked on top of that one if we need the space!


If anyone local is reading this please speak to any local business people you know, whatever business they might be in. Even a few reams of ordinary copier paper, can be separated into bundles of a few pages to go into a box.
So let me show you some photos from our depot.

One of the local sign makers, in Madeley did that for us, and it'c come out really well. We are so pleased.

Then walk across the car park to here.
When the van comes in and out we will be using the big door you can see open there, but the rest of the time we will be using the door over on the very right of that picture.

Sign in desk.Forms to fill so we have your details if there is an accident or whatever, and the sign in sign out book so we know who is in the building at any one time.

Our little trolley thing.
MOST depots across the UK borrow supermarket cages to move a whole pile of boxes at a time from where we store the boxes, to where we sort them. We have NOT been able to get any local supermarket to let us borrow some, they keep saying they only have just enough and it's their busiest time of year etc. Yet the rest of the country managed to lend some, I just don't get it!

The very first training session. People CHECKING their first boxes of the season.

This is our van. We hired it for the time we are open, to go fetch people's boxes and so on.
So if it's a hire van, how did we get the OCC logo on it?

It's easy, they are magnets! Door magnets readily available from a very well known online printing company.

And finally a short video that I put on my main blog yesterday. More to come in the future.

Take a journey into our Shoebox depot with me.
My bits to camera at home are much quieter than the bits done with the video camera on site, so you might need to reach for the volume switch part way through.

You might also wonder why I didn't help the lady with the signs. Me too! but at the time I was busy filming.