- Begin and end with prayer
- Read/Watch Operation Christmas Child stories
- Plan your Operation Christmas Child kick-off event
- Prayer is the cornerstone of Operation Christmas Child (OCC). We encourage you to make prayer the foundation of all your planning and OCC activities.
- If there is a prayer ministry group at your church, share OCC requests with them in order to integrate into the overall outreach and mission plans for the year.
- Become a part of the Operation Christmas Child Prayer Network by signing up to receive regular prayer requests for the project.
- Make note of prayer opportunities like the Call to Prayer, encouraging people to sign up to pray during National Collection Week
[+] Goal Setting
- Have the church (and/or each group) set a goal for the number of children you want to reach.
- Have some type of visual indicator as to how close you are to the goal. Visuals are important, so count each box toward the goal (i.e. We have now collected 68 of 100 boxes). For example:
- A thermostat that is filled in as goal is reached
- A shoe box that gets filled with toys as goal is reached
[+] Kick-Off Event
- Host a kick-off for Operation Christmas Child. Show a video to share the heart of the OCC ministry (available on the project DVD or from our website).
- Cast the vision for making OCC a missions opportunity for the entire congregation. Encourage a joint effort if there are multiple groups in the church participating separately.
- Offer empty shoeboxes with brochures placed inside.
[+] Dedication Service
- Have one girl and one boy come forward and pray over the gifts during the service.
- As people enter the sanctuary, have children carry the gifts to the front of the church. They can use wagons, carts, etc. Or create a human chain and pass the gifts from the back to the front.
- The pastor’s message can be about giving to the poor, fulfilling the Great Commission, and other lessons on showing the love of Christ to the world.
- Have the congregation dedicate their shoebox gifts, praying that the children and families who receive them would come to know Jesus.
- Watch and download "Praying for Worldwide Impact" from our OCC Videos page.
[+] Children's Sermon
- Take an empty shoe box and ask the kids, “How many of these boxes would it take to hold everything in your bedroom?” Most kids will say 500 or 1000, etc. Remind them that the children receiving these boxes have very few possessions. This helps a child understand just how needy the kids receiving the gifts really are.
- Present an oversized box, one that is a tub/large plastic container and has enough items inside to fill 4-5 standard size shoe boxes. Explain the reason for distributing gift items into several standard size boxes instead of one large package so that more children will receive boxes.
- Encourage church members to donate items each month in a designated bin. Find a suggested calendar on our Year-Round Packing page.
- Challenge Sunday School classes or small groups to be responsible for collecting a certain item each month.
[+] Vacation Bible School
- Ask participants to bring a different item each day and then assemble the gifts at the end of the week.
- Each child can fill out and color the “Let's Be Friends!” page to include in his/her shoe box.
- Create a poster, banner, or flag with the OCC theme.
- Create a friendly competition among the classes. The class that collects the most shoebox gifts wins an ice cream party or other prize.
- Ask children to bring an offering to go toward the $7 donation for Samaritan’s Purse to ship the boxes overseas.
[+] OCC Tree
- Prepare labels with the gender and age group already marked.
- Hang the labels on the tree for people to take.
- As the boxes are returned, they can be placed under the tree.
[+] Photos, Cards, and Letters
- Encourage people to place pictures, cards, and letters to the children in their shoebox gifts. We hear story after story of how the children who receive them love the personal connection with the individual sending the gift.
- Have the children paint their handprint on a card and include the following: “This is my hand. When you place your hand on mine, think about me. I prayed for you to get this box.”
[+] Bulletin Board
- On a church bulletin board, display copies of letters that members have received from children who got their shoebox gifts.
- Post monthly items to bring for shoe boxes.
- Provide OCC photos or spiritual impact stories each month.
- Post key dates and OCC announcements. For example: National Day of Prayer, Follow Your Box information, National Collection Week dates, Church Dedication Sunday, etc.
[+] Missions Fairs/Conferences
- Have an OCC booth at the annual church missions fair.
- Promote OCC at district or area meetings of your denomination or church association.
- Promote OCC at the local mall, county fair, etc.
- Encourage new churches to participate by offering your trucks and vans to pick up shoebox gifts collected during their first year of participation.
- Create an original skit with a Christmas/OCC theme.
- Inform church youth music directors of the “Operation Christmas Child – A Kid’s Musical” from Word Music.
- Write a song with an OCC theme.
[+] Make OCC a Family Activity
- Encourage moms and dads to participate with their sons and daughters in a hands-on mission project.
- Serve at the local OCC shoebox drop-off location. Call your Regional Office for information on locations and how to get involved.
- Serve at a Processing Center (for those 13 and older).
- Attend a Family Day event with your children. These events are offered at all of the Processing Centers, except Hawaii, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. These events are encouraged for families with children ages 12 and under.
[+] In Honor/Memory of
- Have a program in your church to pack a shoebox in honor or in memory of someone.
- Create a card that is filled out in the person’s honor or memory and then the card would be placed place the card in the shoebox.
- Send a card to the person you are honoring.
- Instead of giving Christmas gifts to family members, fill a shoebox gift in their honor.
[+] Kids and Seniors Together
- If there are homebound members in the church who want to participate, but cannot, suggest that they donate money for shoebox gifts. Some elderly members of the church may not be homebound, but may have a hard time assembling a shoebox gift by themselves.
- The youth in the church can go out in groups and buy items to fill the boxes.
- Make this an intergenerational program by having the youth go with an older person and they can pack shoeboxes together.
- Have Sunday school classes, senior groups, etc. start collecting wrapping paper and wrapping empty shoeboxes. These can be handed out later in the year for people to fill the boxes.
[+] Christmas in July
- This works well because many back-to-school items and end-of-summer items are on sale.
- Bring a packed shoebox or filler items which can be used to pack boxes at the party.
[+] Youth Event
- Each teen puts together a team that consists of himself/herself and 3 non-churched friends from school. Youth participate in a scavenger hunt where they ask people to donate items to be placed in shoeboxes. Go to a dentist office and ask for toothbrushes, stores to ask for school supplies, private homes, etc. The teens have a list of things to find and then meet back at church to pack boxes.
[+] OCC Fair
- Church rents bounce houses and dunking booth, sets up carnival games, has food donated, and invites community to come.
- Entrance fee is a shoebox gift.
- Have OCC theme game such as tossing the bean bag in the shoebox, carton packing relays, inappropriate food item eating contest, etc.
[+] Party of Five
- Church member invites five people to his home for dinner or dessert. The host is encouraged to invite someone that he or she may work with on a professional basis but may not know very well personally.
- Suggested people, and the items they may want to bring for shoeboxes, include: Dentist/Orthodontist (toothbrushes, paste, floss), School teacher (school supplies), Small business owners (items from their businesses).
[+] International Outreach
- The church sends invitations to members of the community who are from receiving countries, inviting them to come to a shoebox packing event at the church. At the event, videos or stories are shared from those countries that are represented by the guests. Perhaps these community members could participate in the collection Sunday event by representing their countries and carrying in the boxes.
[+] Home Groups
- Include communication to home group leaders about OCC as an opportunity to invite neighbors who may not normally come to a “Bible study” group. Give personal invitations wherever possible, or create a door-hanger invitation which includes a brief explanation of OCC and a list of appropriate shoebox items. Create an engaging “Christmas party” atmosphere.