WHETHER THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME FILLING A SHOEBOX OR YOU'VE BEEN AT IT FOR YEARS, USE THE LIST BELOW TO JUMP-START YOUR PACKING.
Shoebox season is here! As you pray about how your shoebox can bring great joy and the good news of Jesus Christ to boys and girls in need, take a moment to check out our short list of innovative packing ideas. If you implement one or more of these suggestions and choose quality gifts, then your shoebox is sure to become a priceless treasure for the child who receives it!
1. Choose a Theme
Select a favorite color, animal, or Bible verse and coordinate the items in your box around it. This little bit of additional effort goes a long way in delighting a child!
“I enjoy packing themed boxes because I believe it makes the gifts extra special,” said Nicole Kingsbury of Verona, Pennsylvania. “It shows the child that they are special and loved by a creative God.” She created the pink and panda box with visions of encouraging a child whose favorite color is pink.
“My kids have often been my inspiration when choosing a theme to pack,” Nicole said. “My late daughter Amber used to love to come up with creative themes for her boxes so I plan to continue packing them in honor of her.”
This year, Theresa Bell of Zillah, Washington, packed a shoebox around the theme of camping with a picture of a deer on the outside of the box and a stuffed bear, animal t-shirt, and water bottle inside. She packs hundreds of themed boxes every year and said, “I want each kid when they open it up to realize that somebody spent a lot of time on this.”
Theresa always prays that the children who receive her themed boxes will accept Jesus Christ into their hearts. “I also pray that they’ll go through The Greatest Journey,” she said, mentioning the discipleship course designed specifically for shoebox recipients.
2. Personalize It!
In addition to including a note to the child and a photo of yourself inside, you can actually personalize the box itself as well!
Sue Luma of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, makes sure that every shoebox gift she packs has a personalized lid, bearing encouraging words and drawings. She wants each child to know that someone loved them enough to create the special artwork for them. At times, she designs some lids to be more interactive, containing a road, checkerboard, or a dollhouse scene for the child to use when playing with the items in their shoebox. She even makes sure that the box contents follow the theme of her lids.
“I pray that their eyes will just see Jesus, that their hearts will be so filled and know that Jesus loves them,” Sue said.
3. Make Your “Wow” Item Special!
Try including an instrument inside your shoebox gift as the item designed to “wow” the child when they open it. Kirby Smith of Bath County, Virginia, chose to pack xylophones in a few of her shoebox gifts and said, “Music is universal. No matter what country it ends up in, a child can enjoy it.” Maracas and ukuleles also work well!
Other fun ideas include a hammock, winter coat, rain gear, or remote-control vehicles (with extra batteries). Or if you’re a crafter, handmade doll clothes are great to include as well. Deflated soccer balls with pumps and cuddly stuffed animals are always a good addition, too!
4. Did You Know THIS Could Also Be Included?
Watercolor sets, glue sticks, markers, store-bought creative dough, and non-medicated, stick-style lip balm can all be included! Squirt guns that don’t look like real guns are also a real hit with shoebox recipients, as are marbles, plastic mirrors, and non-liquid make-up. Wet wipes are also a great idea—just make sure they’re not the antibacterial or medicated kind.
Sara Lewis of West Union, Ohio, has been packing shoeboxes for 14 years and loves to include reusable feminine hygiene products in her shoeboxes. “In a lot of countries, if these girls don’t have the supplies they need, they don’t get to attend school,” said Sara. “How horrible is that to have to miss a whole week of school every month!” In each box, she packs five reusable pads, four pairs of underwear, and 20 feet of clothesline to aid in the laundry process.
5. Celebrate with Build a Shoebox Online
Our online option for packing shoeboxes provides a great way to honor a loved one or celebrate a special birthday or anniversary! This is especially true if you opt to create a goal page at samaritanspurse.org/buildonline. You can name your goal page in honor of an occasion or special someone and invite others to join you in celebrating! Some goal pages have encouraged people to build 50 boxes in honor of a 50th birthday or to remember a late grandmother’s birthday because she had such a heart for children.
Cancer survivor Mark Giardinelli added a twist to his goal page last year by telling his Boerne, Texas, church that he’d shave his head if they built 100 boxes online, roughly one per member of the congregation. When they got close to their goal, his pastor, Alex Lahue, raised the ante saying he’d also shave his head if the church did another 20. By the time the goal page was finished, the church had packed 130 shoebox gifts to bless children in need.
(Editor's Note: This is used courtesy of Samaritan's Purse, and the original was published HERE.)