Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Impact ~ Ecuador ~ Inside Prison Walls

February 28, 2012

Staff writer Valerie Davis blogs from Ecuador

It was an eerie feeling as we lined up single file and walked in silence toward the prison guard’s station. I surrendered my passport and watched the guard slap it onto the stack with everyone else’s. Then he stamped my right wrist with blue ink.

We were led through another gate past a garden of potted flowers and into a courtyard of sorts. Actually it is the remains of a former basketball court with a rusted goalpost still standing at one end, minus the metal rim and net.

The reality of where we are jabbed me when I looked up. It’s a sobering view. Concrete walls 12 feet high, coils of barbed wire, armed men watching warily from the rooftop.

It’s our first day in Ecuador distributing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes to children around the capital city of Quito. The morning distribution was a traditional one, like dozens I have experienced over the past eight years. A modest church sanctuary. Children clapping to the beat of the praise and worship music. Jubilant voices when the gifts are opened.

But here on this slab of broken concrete, children wear solemn expressions as they start to file in. The youngest among them are accompanied by their mothers. One toddler clings to his mother’s hand. Another mom cradles her baby girl, wrapped snugly in a bright pink blanket.

From an upstairs window, a woman’s voice bellows obscenities. More angry shouts follow.

Another gentle reminder that this isn’t a playground. It is a prison. And for these children who know no other way of life, it is home.

The 130 women who live inside these prison walls were convicted of crimes that run the gamut—simple theft, prostitution, drug dealing, manslaughter. Their children often have no one else to care for them, so they become cellmates for weeks, months, sometimes years.

Until recently, boys and girls remained here with their mothers until they reached 18 years of age. Now when they enter their teen years, they are sent to children’s homes.

Forty children currently live in the prison. At one time the number was as high as 200.

As disturbing as that sad reality may be, it was equally moving to observe how attentive the mothers were toward their little ones throughout the Operation Christmas Child program. One mom, holding a toddler in her arms, tenderly bent down to tie a loose shoelace on one of his sneakers. Another showed the patience of a saint when her son became fussy and started to cry. She didn’t get angry. Instead she soothed him with a kiss on the cheek and a hug.

Whatever their crimes, these are mothers who love their children dearly.

Halfway through this afternoon’s program, the event took on a new tone. The somberness lifted. These children, like their counterparts at the church distribution earlier in the day, began to sing and clap their hands too. A few of the moms joined in.

The only shouts heard were the occasional outbursts of elation when a child opened his or her shoe box and saw what was inside. And the stoic guards, well, even they couldn’t hold back smiles.

I spoke to a woman named Jenny, whose 9-month-old son received a shoe box. She is serving a two-year sentence for breaking and entering and robbery. Donato is not her only child. She has five. Two live in the prison with her. The three older children live with their grandmother.

“Thank you for this gift,” she told me. “Because you came here, we know you care. We know you care about our children. Please remember us.”

I had to fight back tears. We usually think of the shoe boxes as gifts primarily meant for the children. But today I saw how much they blessed the grown-ups too—the mothers, the prison guards, and us.

I was able to walk out of that prison yard freely. I got my passport back, and I covered up the ugly blue ink stamp with the sleeve of my sweatshirt.

These women can’t cover up the stains that have marked their lives. Their children can’t so easily either. But we did tell them about the One who does offer grace, forgiveness, and second chances.

I pray a remarkable transformation takes place in the prison in the coming weeks and months. Maybe these women needed to hear someone say that their lives do count for something. That Jesus loves them. Perhaps after today they will become free in a way they never imagined.

They owe it to their children. They owe it to themselves. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Christian Women of the Basin Conference

Hi all!! I am so excited that Abi and I will be at the conference with a table for Operation Christmas Child! If you are there, come stop by the table and say hi! We will have lots of info available and LOVE to talk about OCC. So stop on by.

Learn more at

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Make easy and beautiful bracelets for the shoeboxes

Mummydeals had a guest poster, Melanie, post this idea that I had seen on pinterest for making lovely wooden bracelets for the shoeboxes. I know this is one craft I will be doing.. so pretty! Learn how at

Claire of mummydeals is on the Ecuador trip this week.. so please keep her and the volunteers in your prayers. (Several other bloggers including from faithfulprovisions is also in that team.) And especially pray for these children.

Ecuador continued

Are you following the Ecuador distribution team on twitter??? If not here is a glimpse of what has been on there...

If not.. you can see other videos and updates through the day by following them on twitter today at!/search?q=%23OCClive or search #OCClive once on twitter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Impact ~ Ecuador

This week as a team of bloggers and OCC volunteers are distributing shoeboxes in Equador I will be featuring Equador. I have posted about the live twitter event. And I will share links to blogs about the distribution. No more delay... an impact report from Ecuador

Thirty percent of Ecuador’s 15 million people are 14-years-old or younger. In the 2011-2012 season, 151,200 shoe box gifts will be delivered to children in Ecuador, which first received the gifts in 1997. Since then, 612,792 children in Ecuador have received a shoe box gift.

In 2010, Operation Christmas Child began offering a new, follow-up discipleship program to our ministry partners in conjunction with the shoe box gifts. This year in Ecuador, these Bible lessons will be offered to 30,800 children who receive a shoe box gift.

The Greatest Journey begins when children are freely offered Gospel storybooks along with their shoe boxes. The Greatest Gift of All booklets—printed in over 70 languages—contain colorful illustrations that explain the Good News of Jesus Christ in a simple, engaging style.

After receiving a shoe box gift, boys and girls are invited to participate in the voluntary Bible study course produced by Samaritan’s Purse. The 12-lesson set guides children through a study of who Jesus Christ is, what it means to follow Him, and how to share this exciting message with others.

To help these boys and girls continue to grow in their faith, we also want to provide them with their own copies of the Greatest Gift of All New Testament. This special edition also includes select Old Testament stories, a dictionary, and a section that encourages the children to memorize Scripture.

Spiritual Impact Stories
Receiving God's Love
During a shoe box distribution at Centro Cristiano Nuevo Horizontes, 100 children accepted Christ. The pastor said: “There was one special girl called Gaby. She is mentally slow, and her mother is an older lady that sells in the streets. The girl had never had a gift and she would dream about a stuffed animal. During the program, both of them accepted Christ and received God’s love and the stuffed animal she always wanted.”

An Eternal Harvest
Pastor Guido from Divino Redentor church said: “I offered the church as the site for the Operation Christmas Child training and kickoff events of The Greatest Journey. I thought about blessing others, but I got blessed and the church too. We had around 40 children in our Sunday school class, and after the distribution, the number went up to100. We started a ministry with the families that live in Villa Flora and are very poor. The children received Christ, and the mothers, who were very thankful, asked us to come back every week. Now we have a church in Quebrada with this people. What a blessing!”

Pastor Juan Carlos at Buen Pastor de Palugo Church said: “In a very poor neighborhood we distributed shoe boxes last year and gave out the Greatest Gift Of All booklets. This is where we started a ministry called “Buenas Nuevas” (Good News). In March this year, some people from Operation Christmas Child in the United States visited us and gave us shoe boxes and The Greatest Journey, a new discipleship program. We started with 35 children, and now we have 110 children each Friday; and on Mother’s Day, 25 mothers and fathers started coming to church. Glory to God!”

Pastor Juan at Christian Center Tumbco and AARON school said: “During the program where Operation Christmas Child distributed shoe boxes, a boy from second grade opened a shoe box and started jumping and shouting for joy. He asked the brothers and sisters from the U.S. to go to another school he knew where the children were poorer. That’s how we went to Itulcachi School, where more than 50 children received Jesus as their Savior.”

I'm Not Alone
From a local volunteer: “Adrian, 12 years old, was abandoned by his parents when he was a child because they left the country. He lives with his grandparents. He thought nobody loved him and had many problems at school because he didn’t have a home. After the shoe box distribution he said: ‘My uncle and aunt invited me to go to an evangelistic program in the church. There, I met Christ. God loves me, and He loves me a lot. I know I’m not alone. I hope my parents come back from Spain so I can hug them and tell them I love them a lot. Thank you for the shoe box and the biggest gift of all, Jesus.’”

The province of Guano has only four churches and less than 1,000 Christians. Pray for the church to grow and for many to come to know the Lord.

Special Report Released

You might already have this in your hands.. as MANY were mailed out. If not check out the Operation Christmas Child Special Report online at

Are you continuing in prayer for the children who received or are yet to receive your box? God is working. He is working using these shoeboxes. Praise God!

Following a Distribution LIVE

Pretty neat stuff... 

Operation Christmas Child ( staff are in Ecuador this week serving with the local volunteer team to hand out shoe box gifts!  Tomorrow, follow @OCC_shoeboxes on Twitter to experience a day of shoe box gift distributions and OCC’s discipleship program, The Greatest Journey. The content will include photos and videos that highlight the moment we set out on our journey - from handing out gifts, to interacting with pastors and volunteers, to experiencing a discipleship class.

Operation Christmas Child is exciting with Ecuador atm... because my fellow blogger Claire is in Equador right now with Operation Christmas Child for a distribution!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Michael's Sales

This week there are a couple of things worth mentioning about Michael's craft store.

First is that this week they are selling their photo boxes at a great sale price of 6 for $10. That is a good price already and some people use these cute and sturdy boxes instead of shoeboxes. But the other notable thing is that on MONDAY ONLY there is a coupon for 20% off your order including sale items (but not clearance) which would bring the price even lower.. down to $1.24 each. If this is an option you are interested in... then tomorrow is the day. :)

Also, if something you would like is available on sale at Michael's, this coupon good only tomorrow would help bring the price of your total order down.

Or there is a single item coupon of 50% of regularly priced item. For crafters this is always a good deal... and for those of us packing shoeboxes.. there is usually plenty of options at Michael's.

Happy Bargain Shopping!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Now on Facebook as well

This is a trial to see if this is a good way to get out info. If you are on Facebook and are interested in these updates, I will be sharing there when I post HERE... and putting much of it on both places. If so, go to the link and LIKE the page and you can keep updated that way.

This blog also has a couple ways to get updates from here as well. On the right hand side of this page is an email box where you can enter your email to be notified of new posts here. And there is a RSS feed option as well.

The story of Rosi

Such a simple thing. Pack a shoebox. And yet, what a glorious thing God can do through this gift. How wonderfully Christ's love and YOURS can shine through this simple act! Enjoy the story of one shoebox and a precious girl named Rosi.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rite Aid Toothpaste Deal means FREE toothpaste!

Found this deal over at Clipwithpurpose...
Running from Sunday through next Saturday....

Colgate Total or Sensitive Toothpaste $3.50
Receive a $3.50 +Up Reward when you buy one (limit 4)
Final Price: Free

And better than free.. if you have the coupon:Use $0.75/1 from 2/12 Smart Source (regional coupon)
Final Price: $0.75 moneymaker!

Remember there is a limit of 4.. but YAY!! Love Up Rewards! 

Does the Shoebox matter??? YES!

December 9, 2011

Jon Acuff, the author of "Stuff Christians Like", recently traveled with Samaritan's Purse to Vietnam where he visited two kindergartens he helped establish by raising money through his blog. Earlier this week, he wrote about a man whose life was transformed because of a shoe box gift from Operation Christmas Child.

This is a true story. But, at times, it will feel like fiction.

It will careen over mountains and oceans, unravel across decades, cross closed borders and speed through open technology. And the whole thing starts with a small flute.

More than 15 years ago in Australia, a complete stranger put a flute inside a cardboard box. They didn’t know who would get the flute. They had no idea which home or heart that box would end up in. But, they sealed the top and they sent the box out like a musical message in a bottle.

The box and the flute traveled through the South Pacific Ocean and the Coral Sea until finally landing in Hanoi, Vietnam. There it rumbled through streets crowded with motorbikes and eventually found its way to Hoa.

He was 14 years old and living on the streets. After leaving his village and moving to Hanoi to earn money, he had become one more teenager with a lot of life left but very little hope.

Fortunately, Samaritan’s Purse operated a targeted supplemental nutrition program for malnourished kids in a Hanoi shelter. They provided food for breakfast and dinner to the people who lived there. Hoa was one of those people. And one day, in addition to a meal, he got a small cardboard box.

Fast forward 13 years, and a 5-year-old little girl in Atlanta, Georgia–my daughter–sees a photo of a starving child in a book and says, “That’s pretend right? That’s not real, right?” And when she says that, I hear her saying, “You’re not OK with that, are you dad? Do other people know about that? Are you doing something about that dad?” And I wasn’t, so I decided to do something differently.

That’s when I asked you, thousands of strangers from dozens of countries around the world, to help me raise $30,000 to build a kindergarten in Vietnam.

Fast forward 18 hours, and the entire $30,000 goal is complete. In less than a day, it’s done. So we decided to do it again and raised another $30,000 to build a second kindergarten.

A world away, Hoa has never heard of the blog "Stuff Christians Like". Readers of "Stuff Christians Like" have never heard of Hoa, but their paths were about to intersect.


Well, the person who coordinated the building of two kindergartens in a remote region of Vietnam was a young man in his late 20s who was once given a flute by a stranger. That small gift kicked off a life change that is still impacting Vietnam. After Hoa became a Christian, he went back to his village and introduced his parents to Jesus Christ. And then, more than a decade later in a city where Christians are .01 percent of the population, Hoa got a phone call in Hanoi.

About building two kindergartens.

About a five year old with a question.

About blog readers with a mission.

And somewhere, in Australia, a stranger who put a flute in a cardboard box can’t possibly know the difference they made.

Does a box really matter?

Does building a box with Operation Christmas Child really change the world?

Can the gospel start with a flute?

Hoa would tell you yes.

And now that I’ve met him and seen the kindergartens he built with your help, I would tell you yes too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Michael's Valentine's Clearance

Well, I bought them out of pencils and erasers.. but there are stickers, mini tote bags, foam sticky hearts, and more still at Michaels all at 70% off!!!! Woot!

A Special Birthday Party...

I read the below post on the Samaritan's Purse blog... and thought.. what a SWEET idea! I know that our church youth will be having a packing party,... but this a different sort. Read and see.

Kristan Simmons, a home-schooling mom of two girls and a fan of Operation Christmas Child, blogs about a special birthday party she is planning for her daughters.

How many moms and dads honestly look at their kids' play rooms or toy closets and say, “Wow, my little angel(s) could use a few more toys, so let's throw a birthday party?” Not me. So what do you do about birthday parties where kids feel it necessary to bring gifts, you know, 10 or more new toys to add to the mess lying around the house!?

My solution this year is to make the party fun, yet about something more important. I am planning an Operation Christmas Child shoe box packing party for Olivia and Sarah’s birthdays (joint because both girls' birthdays are so close together).

I have really cool ideas about making it fun. Samaritan's Purse provides a whole party pack for just such packing parties. They include stickers, bookmarks, coloring sheets for the kids to color and fill out a short note to put in their boxes.

Soooo, instead of the kids bringing gifts for the birthday girls they will bring shoe box items for a child specified on their invitation. We will have a wrapping station where the boxes will get decorated by the kids, a packing station, a letter writing station where they can do their coloring sheets and write their letters, a photo booth where the kids can have their picture taken to put in the box, and a video station where they can see the video of kids receiving boxes.

We will wrap the evening up with prayer over the boxes and some fun and games—a pinata maybe with additional items they can collect to put in their boxes, a scavenger hunt where they can hunt for items to put in their boxes, other prize-winning games where the prizes are added to the kid's box. 

Now for anyone worried about the girls not getting birthday present—don’t! I can guarantee family members will not let them go without. I know Nanny and Poppy, and Grandma and all the aunts and uncles will make sure the girls are spoiled rotten on their big days, but I really want their parties to be fun and meaningful.

Now to be thinking of a really cool cake for this party—maybe a shoe box with the lid sitting off the side and it filled with small toys and such!!! Hmmmm....

Want to host an Operation Christmas Child-themed birthday party? Click here to order party packs or other materials. 

Let the Clearance Begin!!

It is the day after Valentine's and that means CLEARANCE. Right now the selection is great but the markdowns are at around 50%. Many stores will lower prices even more in the days and weeks to come, but selection will likely decrease as well. 

Today, I bought only a few things at Walmart. I bought heart shaped lollipops. I LOVE them.. as I think they are so cute to have in a mix of candy. Half off of the candy at places like Rite Aid, Walmart, and even Dollar Tree means that there are many hard candy options available. 

I also bought a couple of princess cups. Do you remember the Princess Theme boxes my daughter created? I couldn't resist picking up 2 plastic cups to go with the theme. They were half off.. so 44 cents each.. and I should be able to fit them in the boxes by filling them with some of the items in the boxes. Or maybe by putting the bag of candy in them. 

 The Valentine's plush is all 50% off. There was a LOT of it. A full aisle full. The ones in the picture started at 2.97.. at half off they are still more than dollar store per plush, but not by much. Some of it is VERY cute. And I love the theme of Valentine's day for the boxes.. sending them OUR love and the love of Christ in a box. I will be watching and hoping that these go down to 75% off. Now they are a good deal.. at 75% off they will be a GREAT deal! And these small plush are a great size for our boxes!
This is one of MANY little items also in the Valentine's aisles. The six pack of mazes started out at 97 cents.. so now the six mazes are around 50 cents each. There were two full boxes of these.. so they may make it to better clearance. I will be watching. :) 

I have not visited Fred Meyers or Kmart but they will have Valentine's clearance as well! 

Happy bargain shopping!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Clearance!!!


I wanted to remind you that there will soon be cute items on clearance from Valentine's Day. Hard candy. Heart shaped lollipops. Teddy bears with hearts. All SORTS of cute plush. Hearts on EVERYTHING from socks to pencils! We can stock up and SHOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

Updates from the Philippines

If you are on Facebook, check out the Operation Christmas Child page! There are a couple of pictures and thank yous from the Philippines where they just did a distribution in Abra, Philippines on Saturday! Perhaps one of OUR boxes was opened then! I now have heard from several people who have tracked their boxes from this area whose boxes went to that area.

Please remember to keep in prayer for the children who HAVE received their boxes and those yet to receive them. That their hearts would be open to hear the gospel. God can and IS using this ministry to bring children and even their families and neighbors to Christ! To God be the glory!

Pack a Shoebox and Save a Life

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homemade Magnetic Board

Oh I just LOVE this idea from Clip with Purpose! Woot! 

I was thinking that it would be neat to use the magnetic paint even on the lid of the box! Clip with Purpose gives full instructions so go check it out. :)


Usually, Michael's coupons are 40% off a regularly priced item.. so thought this might be worth mentioning, 50% off coupon on a regularly priced item. This coupon is good through the 18th.

Also, if you receive the paper there is a 75 cent off coupon for Colgate toothpaste.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Clearance Finds

      Today I was over in Medford to pick up empty shoeboxes and to clearance shop and I found some GREAT deals.
      The first was gloves! The Walmart here likely also has the same deal. 50% off the winter items... making the 2 packs of gloves around 65 cents each (or less than 33 cents per pair of gloves!!) Target had an even better deal.. with clearance prices of 50 cents per two pack.
     I became passionate about putting a pair of gloves into the shoeboxes after reading the story of Jamil. It is likely true that there are going to be clearances of the gloves throughout Klamath Falls soon if not yet.
      The second deal was at Kohls. They had red and white washcloths on clearance. The 8 packs were 80% off.. or $2 per 8 pack. I also had a Kohl's coupon to use on TOP of this clearance price.. if you have a Kohl's card you might have it as well. The Kohl's washcloths are nicer quality than the Walmart ones... but Walmart always has good prices.
      Today I am praising God for multiplying the money I spent on these items, allowing me to buy 80 pairs of gloves and 150 washcloths! And all of these items were bought using gift cards we had received at Christmas from family. YAY.
      The Dollar Tree in Medford had 12 packs of pencil sharpeners as well. I don't know if our local one has that product.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Theme Boxes ~ Princess

Last week, I talked about the idea of  creating theme boxes. So many possibilities! Well, then we used the Michael's coupons from last weekend... $5 off of a $5 purchase. My daughter and I each used a coupon, for two days. We spent a little with each coupon but my daughter and I got a LOT of stuff for very little money. We added in some items from dollar stores. And viola! For around $12, my daughter created 2 VERY full princess theme boxes. One for 2-4 year olds. One for 5-9 year olds. Let's see what we got!

Princess Theme for a 2-4 year old girl:
 In the box is a toothbrush for a young child, a tube of toothpaste, bar of soap and washcloth, a ball, a Valentine's stuffed animal, a puzzle, a pair of socks, a pair of gloves, a pencil case full of pencils and a pencil sharpener. A ruler, A set of young child crayons. A necklace. A spinning top. A pair of sunglasses. A necklace. And a tiara.

Princess Theme for a 5-9 year old:
A toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and washcloth. 2 princess folders. A pencil case full of princess pencils and a pencil sharpener. A ruler, 2 small notebooks, and crayons. 2 pairs of socks and a pair of gloves. A princess theme jumprope. A chalkboard and chalk. A necklace. A princess nailfile. A teddy bear. A princess theme yo yo. Princess theme ball. And a harmonica.

We hit all the high notes for little girls.. from active play, to school, to art, and music for the older girl. Hygiene. Lovey. Clothes. And just plain fun. We will still add some candy later... maybe after Valentine's hard candy in pinks to go with the theme. And of course letters and a photo.

YAY for Princess Theme and for the princesses who will receive these boxes! May they know they are children of the King of Kings!

In a few weeks, I will show the sports theme box I am working on. My goal is to spend less than $10 each for AWESOME and very FULL boxes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Impact Story from the Philippines

I know many of the boxes from our area went to the Philippines this year. Please remember to stay in prayer for the child(ren) you sent boxes to, to the ministry in the Philippines, and for the communities served by Operation Christmas Child. To God be the glory.

Shoe boxes gifts help Filipino Christians demonstrate God’s love to skeptical communities
When 13-year-old Mijhan Batasan lifted the lid of his neatly wrapped shoe box, he found an array of toys and school supplies. But before the boy reached for the miniature cars or the brightly-colored markers, he opened an envelope.

As an Operation Christmas Child volunteer helped him read the unfamiliar English phrases, he heard these words: “We can celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s only son, together through this small gift. He loves us both very much. He wants us to love one another no matter where we live.”

Mijhan lives in a small village on Luzon, the Philippines’ largest island. In such communities, words like love and compassion are not often associated with Christians.

But Onie Lorenzana, a dedicated Philippine Christian, saw the needs of Mijhan’s community and started organizing feeding programs and concerts for the children. And through her involvement with Operation Christmas Child, Lorenzana watched as dozens of children received gifts for the first time.

“She has a passion for souls, and she relays the message of God’s love to these people,” said Pastor Manny Oranza, a friend.

Lorenzana’s work is making a difference. When the volunteer asked Mijhan why a Christian he doesn’t know would send him a gift, he replied, “Because he cares for me. Because he loves my community.”

Mijhan’s reply was an answer to prayer for Tim Collins. Collins is a volunteer youth leader at North Valley Christian Fellowship in Milpitas, California, the church that packed the boxes that were distributed in Mijhan's village.

Collins said the church’s youth ministry packed dozens of boxes last year with a two-fold goal. He hoped the project would help the church’s teenagers to think outside of themselves, and that each shoe box would make a difference in a child’s life.

“As we were packing shoe boxes, we made sure we weren’t just throwing some stuff in a box,” Collins said. “We also wanted to make sure we were lifting up the kids in prayer.”

Albert Alcorn, North Valley’s youth director, said the group also prayed that recipients would see their authenticity and love.

“We wanted the children to know that we genuinely care for them,” Alcorn said. “We prayed that they would not only be happy and satisfied, but that God would prepare a way for his message.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Life for Old Crayons

It's time for another craft project... and this one is one I have done in the past, way back when my kids were little and also when I was a nanny. As I was pondering how best to spend my OCC dollars, I began to think once again of crafting to stretch that dollar. I began to think of all the broken crayons likely thrown away around town. Especially at day care centers, pre-schools, schools, sunday school classrooms, etc. And I thought... hm.... maybe there is something we can do for OCC here. YES I think there IS. I remember this long ago project.. and searched the web. YES. I think this would be very good for the littles.. the 2-4 year olds.

HINT: I used to bend the tin cans used for melting into a spout.. easy to do. The most difficult part of this whole process is peeling the crayons. Be careful those cans get HOT.

PS.. you can also mix the crayons and do them simply in a muffin tin.. but I think these are both cuter and easier to use than a round mixed color crayon.

Woo hoo! I have old candy molds somewhere.. and HOW CUTE!!! Ooo and maybe if in a theme box, even CUTER. I know I have hearts and flowers. Those would be perfect for little girls. I will have to look to see what other molds I have. And I can watch for new used ones at garage sales.

I am going to go see what broken crayons I can scrounge up to make some of these. Maybe you have some as well. If you have the supplies these are FREE. And FREE is GOOD. A bit of time is all it takes to take junk and make something CUTE for our boxes. And practical too.

EDIT to add another.. and easier version. I think you could do it as the photo shows with mixed colors but why not with all one? I think no reason at all. So more than one option on how to do this. Neat! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Video Operation Christmas Child in the Sudan

Given the attacks in Sudan on the pastoral college.. and on churches.. in the Sudan, I thought this was especially appropriate. Thank you for your prayers.. and for your donations.

Packing Parties

Have you ever heard of an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party??? 
Who doesn't love a PARTY???
     They can be a wonderful and FUN way to pack boxes. I have been blessed to be part of several over the years that have taken different forms.. but since becoming a year round volunteer and reading about what others do, I realize I have only scratched the surface.

Here are just a few ideas of how people have done packing parties:
  • Operation Christmas Child Packing Birthday Party - this could also just be a group of friends or neighbors... but the concept is everyone brings some things.. and together you pack boxes with the misc. supplies you bring in. Combine with some food and fun.. and you have a neat way to put together boxes. And maybe introduce this fun ministry to others.
  • Church/Youth Group Packing party - collect the items year round perhaps with a suggested list each month (maybe based on sales? as well as covering basic needs. I will post one possible list at the end of this post) Then get together and fill boxes!!! By buying bit by bit year round and especially with sales.. more can be filled for less.
  • Club Packing Boxes- same as above but bring to monthly meetings.. a little at a time or all at once (AWANAS, 4H, Scouts, Sports teams, etc etc etc.)
  • Theme Packing Parties - same as above.. but maybe a sewing/quilting club MAKES things for the boxes.. or sports team builds sports theme boxes
  • Community Packing Party - this can be small or BIG scale. K-Love has done dozens around the nation... and other communities have done it on their own.. gathering donations from businesses and individuals towards a BIG party where people come together to pack the boxes. How fun!
This year I hope that we will have several packing parties around the area. Do you already do one?? Any ideas about how you made it work? 

I will be talking to businesses in the area (dentists, hotels, stores, etc) to gather some basic donations, God willing... and I will be sharing with those groups that would like help with their packing party. If you want help starting one, materials, ideas, or donations.. let me know. I would love to help.


After Christmas Clearance items- including wrapping paper, candy, toys, etc

After Valentine’s Day Clearance
-stuffed animals (hearts can show love of Christ)
-hard candy
-dollar store/craft store clearance items (notebooks, erasers, pencils, puzzles…)


After Easter Clearance
-stuffed animals (lambs!! Cute animals)
-hard candy
-dollar store/craft store clearance items (notebooks, erasers, pencils)


Vacation Items- hotel soap
Outdoor toys- Small balls, Frisbees, jump ropes (dollar store?)

Calculators, Sewing Kits (older children)
Musical Instruments (harmonicas, kazoos, small recorders or whistles)

Sale School and Art Supplies – pencils, pencil sharpener, crayons, smaller notebooks, markers, erasers, small construction paper

Clearance Summer T-shirts, flip flops, hats, socks

Combs, Hairbrushes, Hair Ribbons, Barrettes, etc

Leftover appropriate hard Halloween Candy

YEAR ROUND- ANY GREAT FIND, fun toys, free after rebate items, clearanced items, hand-made gifts (such as knit hats, tote bags, small soft toys, etc) 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Prayer Request ~ Heiban Bible College in Sudan Bombed

The Heiban Bible College, a pastor training school constructed and dedicated by Samaritan's Purse in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, was bombed by the Sudanese Air Force on Wednesday afternoon. Two buildings were destroyed.

This is the latest attack in South Kordofan State, where the Bible college is located. At least four churches built by Samaritan's Purse have been destroyed since August by bombing or burning, including Angolo Church on January 10.

"We are deeply concerned for the welfare and lives of the people of South Kordofan, and we condemn the bombing of churches and Christian facilities," Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham said.

Across the border in the newly independent nation of South Sudan, Samaritan's Purse began working in Yida refugee camp in August 2011 after hearing reports of thousands of refugees from the Nuba Mountains, where they were subjected to aerial bombardments and ground attacks from their own government.

A total of 28,500 individuals have been registered in Yida camp, where we are helping with food, nutrition, and clean water.

Please pray for the people in South Kordofan State affected by the ongoing violence, and for our relief work in South Sudan as we bring help in the Name of Christ.

Michael's coupon good only TODAY AND TOMORROW

Make a $5 or more pre-tax purchase and get $5 off!!! This excludes some things including clearance but there are many wonderful shoebox items at Michaels. Get your coupon at,default,pg.html?cm_mmc=email-_-20120203Promo-_-USB3-_-US+Spend+%245%2FGet+%245# Coupon is good for February 3-4th. 

Update: We just went.. and there is a LOT of great stuff... cute pencil sets, notebooks, toys... as well as art supplies and craft goodies! Lots of great possibilities. My daughter is building a princess box and my son a sports theme box.. I will feature both as themes when they are finished. :)

The miracle of gloves

Oh, this story had me choking up... I found it at a blog called Packing Boxes of Love from Canada... and it is SO relevant right now... because right now you can buy gloves and hats and scarves at winter clearance for the boxes.

Jamil and his gloves.
In Kenya post-election violence in 2008 coupled with the effects of the global financial crisis has taken their effect on Kenya’s economy. Almost a quarter of the population live on less than a £1 a day and there are 1.2 million people living with HIV.
Jamil is 6 years old and lives in the Ark children’s home as he is an orphan. Although he is well cared for and is basically healthy he does not get many presents or things which he can keep for himself. He had learned in Sunday school that if you pray for something hard enough God will provide it. What he wanted most in all the world was a pair of gloves for the cold weather. He prayed everyday for months and could not understand why they were not at the end of his bed when he woke in a morning or why they did not appear in church when he went to Sunday school. But he did not stop praying for them.
Then the shoeboxes came. As Jamil opened his box he found maroon stripped scarf and a pairs of maroon gloves. He told everyone that this was his best day in his life. Since then Jamil has been proudly wearing his scarf as he goes to church and to school too. Jamil still loves going to church and is very active in his church Sunday school – telling the other children how if they pray for something God will give it to them – but not in the way that you might expect.

Source OCC UK.

Theme Boxes

This is an idea I had never considered but as I poke around what others are doing with OCC shoeboxes I keep finding this idea. And I can certainly see how they could be fun.

Yes, one still includes basic toiletries and school supplies. They are such a staple for the shoeboxes... but after that... here are just a few themes to get your mind churning:

Sports theme: As so many children that receive shoeboxes have little access to sporting equipment, sports fans and enthusiasts, may well LOVE creating a sports theme box. Including items like balls, baseball cap, jump ropes, perhaps a team t-shirt, etc, could make a GREAT box for a child... sharing the love of fitness and fun with a child overseas.

Sewing Box: For sewing lovers, quilters, etc... this box can provide both practicality and fun! A hand-sewn tote bag or maybe a skirt or shirt for inside? How about lining the box with fabric? Including a sewing kit. Perhaps even a hand-sewn doll?

Craft Box: Lots of crafters out there.. and the possibilities for this box are endless! Art supplies, beading kits, etc. How about a sketchbook as well? You can fill this box with all sorts of fun things: Handmade toys, covered notebooks, a flower pen, hairbands, knit scarf... WHATEVER your craft is there are items that would be loved!

Safari theme: Stuffed animal of course.. how about school supplies bearing animals, small figures, maybe a tshirt with an animal on it. Maybe some inexpensive binoculars or a magnifying glass? (Please no toy snakes.. as these are a problem in some cultures.)

In the months to come I will be featuring themed boxes that we pack.. or that others have packed.. in the area. My daughter has already collected most of what she needs for a Princess theme box for both the 5-9 age and the 2-4 age ranges.

Want even MORE ideas for themes??? There is a whole post on it, including 10 themes at

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day of Prayer

A bit late.. but today is a day of prayer for OCC. Please lift up the ministry today... for the delivery of boxes.. the children who will receive them, the workers who bring them, and for the beginning of the presentation of the Greatest Journey.

And now.. a video to make you smile.