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Christmas is ___ days away! (I left the number blank to keep you from stressing over the amount of time you do NOT have left.) I get to thinking each year: Do my kids really need anymore junk? Stuffed animals, Polly Pockets, Transformers and the like already fill our toy bins and drawers. And we couponers are so good, we can afford to get them even more! Certainly it is fun on Christmas morning to watch them squeal with delight as they vigorously open the bags and boxes.  But after a few days it all goes to the toy bin, never to be played with again.

Our family started a tradition several years ago of making shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child, a charity that delivers shoeboxes filled with toys and candy to needy children around the world.  Since our first contribution, those 2 shoeboxes have turned into several!

This is where couponing comes in. I have a giant extra dresser in my closet I use all year long to throw my coupon treasures in. You probably have a stockpile like this somewhere too:

  • Gum (all those FREE packs!)
  • Socks
  • Bar soap
  • School supplies you got nearly free at all the office stores.
  • End of the year summer stuff like sunglasses, visors and 10 cent flip-flops from the 90% off rack at CVS.
  • July 4th Clearance shirts at Target for $1.00 (kids around the world LOVE American stuff).
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste (of course!)

My shoebox stockpile builds and grows with every happy meal toy and every Halloween candy overload. Anything that won’t melt goes in the drawer after Halloween in preparation for shoe box building.

Collection week is coming up November 14-21st. Here is what you do:

USE AN EMPTY SHOE BOX. (standard size) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box, but it isn’t required.  If you do, make sure to wrap the lid separately.

CHOOSE AGE & GENDER.  Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl. Then choose an age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.

FILL WITH GIFTS. Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child.

INCLUDE YOUR DONATION. Please donate at least $7 for each shoebox you prepare. This helps cover shipping costs and other related project costs. You can give online by using the "Follow Your Box Donation" option, or you can write a check to Samaritan's Purse (note "OCC" on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, please make one combined donation.

DROP OFF. Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop off at the Collection Center nearest you during collection week, November 14-21. To find a location visit the website and enter your zip code.

Our family chose the “Follow Your Box Donation” option for the first time last year.  We were thrilled to learn that our boxes went to Uganda! I knew all that clearance summer stuff and banana boat lip balm would be put to good use! Don’t wait.  Head to your stockpile, grab an old shoebox, and get packing!

This has been a guest post by Buffy from Winnabow, NC
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