Better known as Shoe Box Sunday (or Saturday) in some places, is a fun event, with a mind and heart towards missions. A lot of churches get together to pack shoe boxes.
They allow people who might not be able to do a whole shoe box on their own to participate in packing a box, and those who cannot be there to help financially, and generally get more people involved. Plus, extras from multiple item packages can be shared to make even more boxes.
How to Start
Pray for guidance.
Talk to your pastor and shoe box coordinator (if you don’t have one, perhaps you can coordinate the event and get the event boxes to a local drop off point). You will need their support to plan an event like I am about to describe, though, it could be done as a small group project or home school group project with some minor tweaking.
A place in your church to store shoe box supplies as they come in would be a great idea (that way people do not feel as though they have to hold onto shoe boxes or sale items in their homes and are more likely to participate).
Set a goal. How many boxes has God laid on your heart to see filled in this event? Having a goal spurs people on. Do not be afraid to have faith that God will do big things. Remember: if you aim at nothing you are sure to hit it.
Let Samaritan’s Purse know you’re planning a party, you can do that (and find some more tips and helps) here.
Put the word out.
Let your congregation know what OCC is about. Share some stories. Share the vision (and goal) that has been laid on your heart.
Ask you congregation to begin looking for sales on shoe box items (hello back to school sales!) and shoe boxes. Having a list of item ideas helps.
You can ask people to put together mini sewing kits, toys, tackle boxes, or crochet or knit scarves and hats (to name a few things you can do). Pinterest has so many crafty shoe box filler ideas. Handmade items are always special. Encourage people who wish to make these items to pray for the children who will receive them as they make them. I am trying to get some ideas together to make a post of different fillers you can make.
Monetary donations can be welcomed to cover the cost of shoe boxes filled at the party (It costs $7 per box to ship).
You could also invite your neighboring churches to join you.
Remind them several times throughout the year (especially at sale times)
Find a date and invite people
Usually near the National Collection Week (which is-this year- November 16-23, 2015).
It can be any day your group meets or if a church wide event, it can be a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Keep in mind that it might be 2-4 hours, so you’ll likely want to start with lunch-brown bag is nice because everyone brings their own, and you don’t have to do set up or take up space, but it you have the room you could do a potluck.
Ask people to come and help pack shoe boxes. Simple, but here are a couple of things you’ll want to include:
- Time and date (kind of a duh thing, but do not forget it!)
- That they can bring their own stuff to pack complete boxes or come and pack what has been donated.
- A reminder that donations are appreciated (both of fillers and monetary donations)
- Remind them of the goal of ____ boxes
- If they need to bring a dish or a bagged lunch
- If snacks/drinks will be provided
Recruit volunteers for set up
Find even just one or two people willing to come help you with the next two steps. The more the merrier and more hands make it go quicker, but it does not have to be a big crew.
Sometime the week or day before:
- Set up tables you can use to organize and lay out items for shoe boxes.
- Set up tables people can take their box of stuff back to and pack it in well (and also rubber band and label their boxes- you could put labels, tape and rubber bands at each table you have set up or just have one table near where you are putting finished boxes)
- Open multi packages and bulky packages. Spreading a package of 10 cars into five boxes or 120 crayons into multiple packages makes things go further (you could even bag them up in baggies of 5-10 and make them go even further), and without the bulky packaging on some things you can get more into the boxes. One note: items like whistles and recorders it is not a great idea to open them too far ahead of time, little ones like to try them out, and if you open them just before you put them in the box there’s less chance of that.
- Organize the tables so that people can walk down it, getting everything they need for their shoe box. For example, start with hygiene items in one area (bins and boxes help a lot here), accessories in another and school supplies in another, etc..
- Cut out labels. They can be found on the Official OCC site
- Assemble the premade boxes from Samaritan’s purse (if you have ordered them)
- Set up a wrapping station for those who want to wrap their boxes. Stock wrapping paper, scissors and tape.
- Set up a letter writing station for people to write notes for their boxes. Equip it with paper, and pens. If you have access to a Polaroid type camera, that would be a fun thing to have so people can include a photo. You can have return address labels for the church made up to use for the address if people do not want to use their own address.
- A box of quart or sandwich sized baggies (for items that go together or need to be wrapped-like the soap) are also handy as well as scissors and tape.
- Do not forget rubber bands. you will need at least two per box, more if they are not thick ones
People show up, bless the food and eat.
Before you get started, maybe while everyone has their mouths fill with lunch, you should do over some instructions:
- Explain what packing shoe boxes is about (you could even read one of the many touching Shoe Box Stories from the Offical OCC site or show one of the videos from the site)
- Explain how things are set up, where they can find certain items (tape, rubber bands, boxes, and the filler items) and how to get started (picking an age and gender for each box they do).
- Go over the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of shoe box packing (you can find those in this post on how to pack a shoe box)
- Encourage them to pray for guidance as they pack, and for the child that will receive their box.
- Remind them to think of age appropriate things for their boxes (a baby will not need a pen or size 10 flip-flops and a teen is not going to need a rattle)
- Each box should contain: Soap and wash cloth, tooth paste and tooth-brush, and some toys and school supplies (think 2-3 pens and/or 2-3 pencils (not a whole handful, and again babies do not need pens, but maybe there are some jumbo crayons and a coloring book or stickers).
- If you pack items such as a flash light, you need to include batteries (if not solar)-extra batteries are nice. If you pack non-mechanical pencils, you need to pack sharpeners.
- If they brought their own items suggest that they open packages to make more room.
- Let them know if they brought soap that it needs to be wrapped or baggied (and point out the baggies).
- You will want to let them know they can just pop items in their box and pack it better at their table after they have come through the line so it does not take forever for everyone to get through.
- Tell them that once their box is packed, they need to rubber band it and attach the label to one end of the lid.
- Keep going until you run out of stuff. If you have left over items, but not enough to make a complete box (the basic hygiene items, accessories, toys, school supplies), box them up and take them to the Collection Drop Off so they can pass them onto the distribution center. They will use it to put into boxes that may have toys but not hygiene items (in example).
It is helpful to have your volunteers ‘man’ the tables of fillers, offering guidance on packing shoe boxes, and were to find items, as well as answering questions and keeping bins stocked, though it you are in a hallway, you might just want one or two at most there at a time since it will be very busy and might be close quarters. You might also want them hanging around any of the ‘stations’ you have set up and keeping an eye on any snacks or drinks you may have supplied (to keep things full, get more cups, etc).
If possible, you can set up a tv to watch Shoe Box videos as you pack. I am not an A/V tech and I do not know how to begin to tell you to set this up (each church is set up differently). You can find videos on the offical OCC site.
You could also ask people to fast lunch during the packing party. The only thing about doing that is if you have children helping it is not advisable.
Later that night, you could host a prayer service to pray over the boxes and lives that will be touched.
This was a long post, while I am not sure I covered everything, I hope it inspires you and gives you an idea of where to start.