One of our yearly family traditions is to fill several shoe boxes to send to Operation Christmas Child. I collect small things as I find them throughout the year, and then in early November, we all troop to down to the local dollar store to fill the rest of the boxes up. Our children have always loved picking things out for a child who is close to them in age and trying to imagine what that child would like to receive. We have even been fortunate enough to have one mother (from Uganda) write us back telling us how much the gift meant to her son. She even sent a picture. The benefits for everyone really do outweigh the overwhelming-ness of taking nine children together to the store to let them browse. (Though it does make me realize that perhaps I need to start taking K. more places to give him some more practice in proper store etiquette. But I digress... )
One idea that I've seen in several places is the idea of hand making some of the gifts that will fill a shoe box. As much as I like making things, I am embarrassed to admit that this idea never occurred to me. It would be so easy to do with a little bit of planning and would make the gift that much more meaningful. I will certainly be planning to do this for our shoe boxes next year.
My point to this is to encourage you to fill a shoe box with your family. It is easy to do and a great hands-on way for children to help and bless another child. The drop-off dates are the third week of November with collection points all over the country. If you live near me, I will be filling my van with shoe boxes and driving them north on the 18th. If you get me your shoebox to me before then, I'd be happy to deliver it.