I'm not sure if I mentioned it here or not, but this was our first year to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. My kids both set aside money (on their own) for "poor children". Since you and I both know that there are very few truly poor children that my kids could afford to buy gifts for, I remembered the idea of packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
It was a huge success! Since we didn't have an opportunity to save up for awhile, we only did two shoeboxes this year, one for each child. I used money from my Etsy shop to "sponsor" the boxes (the donation that Samaritan's Purse asks for to help cover the shipping costs). Next year we plan to send as many as possible, so we're going to save up throughout the year to cover the cost per box.
At any rate, we had some things on hand that were perfect for the shoeboxes - school supplies from the back-to-school sales, small gifts I have picked up on clearance for our gift stash, etc. After we filled as much as we could with what we had, I took the kids out shopping with their money to fill the boxes the rest of the way. It was a great lesson in economy and stretching your money, let me tell you! :)
It was such a good experience that I decided to start collecting things for next year's boxes as soon as we were done with this year's. With that in mind, let me share two pictures of what I just found this past week for next year's boxes.
The cost of even $1 items can really add up over several boxes, so I was thrilled to find several boxes of former Target Dollar Spot items (still brand-new in their packaging) at a Goodwill at a very reasonable price of 10/$1!
I'm not sure how much you'll be able to make out from the picture, so here's a little rundown of the 50* items I got for $5: bouncy balls (around 4"), jump rope, journals, train whistle, wooden airplane, hair accessories, and socks. These are all on the list of recommended items, so I was absolutely thrilled to get them. These balls aren't tiny. They're the size of a child's hand, and boy, can they bounce!
Mini Etch a Sketches are also on the lists for almost every age group, but they can be a bit pricey for their size. I was thrilled to find a basket full of them at a surplus store for $1.40 each. I passed up several because they were falling out of their original packaging. The packaging on these is a little bent-up, but I checked them all to make sure they were in good working order. It's a great price for a brand-new mini Etch a Sketch!
I'll try to remember to keep you updated as I find good deals throughout the year for these boxes.
*No, I doubt we'll be sending 50 boxes next year, unless I can find a church or organization to sponsor shipping the boxes. But at $0.10 per toy, I can hang on to these toys for a few years. Toys like this don't go bad with age.