What Goes in My Shoebox?

“Wow” Item

Delight a kid! Start with a medium to large item that will capture the child’s attention the instant he or she opens the box.


Ideas include: Soccer ball with pump, Stuffed animal, Toys (puppets, trucks, etc.), Doll (baby, Barbie, etc.), Musical instrument, Outfit, Shoes

Other Suggestions

Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.


School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.


Non-liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.


Accessories: T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.


Crafts: Make your own items such as hair bows, finger puppets, and friendship bracelets. Download instructions here.


Age and Gender-Specific Ideas:
Girls 2-4, Girls 5-9, Girls 10-14,
Boys 2-4, Boys 5-9, Boys 10-14.


A Personal Note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.


Do Not Include

Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.


‘Can This Go in My Shoebox?’ FAQ:

Are playing cards allowed?
Yes! Playing cards can be included in your shoebox gifts.


How about little toys like spiders, bugs, snakes, etc.?
All of those items are allowed.


Can we include batteries?
Yes. However, if the batteries are loose, both ends must be covered with tape.


Can videos, CDs, and DVDs be included?
Yes, all of these may be included in your shoebox gifts. However, keep in mind that the children may not have a DVD player or CD player available.


Can we include paint sets or glue bottles?
No, both of these items are liquids and can’t be included in your shoebox gifts. However, dry paint sets (such as watercolors) or glue sticks are OK to pack!


Can we include a toolkit with nails, screws, screwdrivers, and hammers?
Yes! The only tools that can’t be included are saws or pocketknives.


Are scissors OK?
Yes! Scissors are OK to include in your shoebox gifts.


Can items with camouflage be included?
If the child can wear or use the items without looking like a soldier, they are OK to include in your shoebox gift. Pink or colored camouflage is safe as are pencils, wallets, or socks.


Are squirt guns allowed?
Squirt guns can be included as long as they do not look like real guns. Brightly colored squirt guns are great to pack in your shoebox gift.


Can glow sticks go in a shoebox gift?
Yes, glow sticks are OK to pack in your gift. If the tube breaks, the liquid does not spill out and can’t damage other items.


Can we include wet wipes?
Yes, wet wipes do not have enough liquid to spill out into the shoebox so they are OK to include in your gift.


Can rubber balls be included if they have liquid glitter inside?
No, these would be considered inappropriate because of the liquid.


What type of candy is allowed in shoebox gifts?
During 2016 collection, appropriate candy includes hard candy, candy corn, gummy bears, caramels, taffy, gum and Tootsie Rolls. For all of these, make sure that the expiration date is at least six months after National Collection Week. You may not include Hershey Kisses, Snickers bars, or any other chocolate, fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, or drink mixes such as Kool-Aid. Starting in 2017, no type of candy at all will be allowed in shoebox gifts, due to increasing customs regulations. Please email us at occinfo@samaritan.org if you have any questions.


Is lip gloss OK to pack in a shoebox gift?
Lip gloss is a liquid and can’t be included. However, Chapstick, lip balm or lipstick can go!


Can I include toothpaste in my shoebox?
During 2016 collection, toothpaste is allowed in shoebox gifts as long as the expiration date is at least six months after National Collection Week. Starting in 2017, toothpaste will not be allowed in shoebox gifts, due to increasing customs regulations. Please email us at occinfo@samaritan.org if you have any questions.


Is Play-Doh OK to pack in a shoebox gift?
Yes, Play-Doh can be included in your shoebox gift. However, some children might think it is edible.


Can compact mirrors go in a shoebox gift?
Yes. Compact mirrors can be included because if the glass shatters, it will be contained.



Interested in the impact of a “wow” item?