I’m talking to you, all you well-meaning hoarders. All my friends with the generous, creative, do-gooder hearts and crammed closets. All the parents overwhelmed by tiny toys. All of us with best intentions. We’ve all got something to share, and a shoebox is just about the perfect container to pack it in.
You’ve probably heard about Operation Christmas Child before. I don’t have any relationship with them whatsoever, but I’ve always wanted to do this.
Sometime last year, the lightbulb went off for me that so much of what comes into the house via my kids is just overwhelm for them and clutter for me. So I started intercepting a lot of it, from goodie bag toys to event swag to “extras” that we end up with after our own parties, and putting it right into shoe boxes. We didn’t organize it throughout the year. We just popped it right into box after box. We stored these in the top drawers of the playroom, and miraculously, the kids didn’t bother them at all.
A few weeks ago, we pulled everything out and the girls packed the boxes, according to the what to pack in a shoebox guidelines on the Operation Christmas Child website. I may or may not have been trying to keep them busy and out of trouble one afternoon.
It surprised exactly no one that we had enough great new loot to pack 10 boxes. The girls actually had fun splitting the items up so that each one was a full box o’ fun. It was precious to hear them negotiating with each other about what should go where. Interestingly, they never asked to keep anything, even though they loved handling it and packing it. At 8 and 10, they get what sharing is about. Finally.
This week is the drop off week for these boxes. We’re going to drop off these Operation Christmas Child boxes with a wish and a prayer that the children who receive them are brought heaps and heaps of joy from what would otherwise end up as unappreciated clutter here. They also have a nifty tracking feature that allows you to print a barcode for each box you donate, and track it to see where it ends up. I can’t wait to share that last leg of the journey with my kids.
If you’ve got a stash of sweet little gifts, hygiene items, or school supplies, consider doing a declutter project this week and getting those boxes out into the world to start your holiday season.
If you like this idea but miss the drop off this week, here’s two suggestions:
- Start gathering your items together for next year, like we did.
- Make these same kinds of boxes, using the same guidelines, and look for opportunities in your communities to share them, perhaps through hospitals or social services organizations in your county.