Ideas for your church

Ideas for your church as you pack shoeboxes and participate in Operation Christmas Child.

Step 1: get ready!

Order shoeboxes, brochures, and promotional items from 


Step 2: Get set!

Share with your group how to pack shoeboxes and inspire them by watching inspiring videos and reading powerful impact stories.


Step 3: GO pack!

Set a goal for your group, pack boxes, and pray for each recipient child.

Check out our packing party guide


Step 4: encourage

Encourage your group to include a minimum donation of $7 inside each shoebox to help cover shipping and other project costs.


Step 5: collect

Collect the packed shoeboxes, deliver them to a local collection centre and thank your group for helping to share the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ--—God’s greatest gift.


National Collection Week is November 14 - 20, 2016


Start with prayer

Prayer is the cornerstone of Operation Christmas Child, and you are encouraged to make prayer the foundation of all your planning and Operation Christmas Child activities

  • If there is a prayer ministry group in your church, share requests to pray for opportunities to integrate Operation Christmas Child into outreach and missions plans for the year
  • Make note of prayer opportunities, and as you pack shoeboxes, please pray for Operation Christmas Child
  • "Like" the Operation Christmas Child Canada Facebook page for ongoing up-to-date prayer requests.

Set a goal

  • Have the church (and/or each group) set a goal for the number of children you want to reach
  • Create a visual indicator as to how close you are to the goal (eg. a thermometer)
  • Count each box toward the goal.  (i.e. "We have now collected 68 of 100 boxes!").

Organize a Launch Sunday

  • Have a Sunday to launch Operation Christmas Child at your church
  • Show an Operation Christmas Child video
  • Challenge your congregation or group with your goal
  • Provide details about when and where to drop off gift-filled shoeboxes
  • Cast the vision for making Operation Christmas Child a missions opportunity for the entire congregation (encourage joint efforts if there are multiple groups in the church participating separately)
  • Have empty shoeboxes with brochures placed inside, available at the church.

Establish a Shoebox Dedication Sunday

Many churches have dedication services for the shoebox gifts. Here are some ideas:

  • As people enter the sanctuary, have children carry the gifts to the front of the church
  • Build a tree out of the shoebox gifts to show how many were collected
  • Have one girl and one boy come up and pray over the gifts during the service
  • Have the children put the shoebox gifts into the cartons
  • Work with your pastor to have the message 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 by praying that the children and families who receive them would come to know Jesus

Connect with home groups

  • Connect with home group leaders about Operation Christmas Child 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 Operation Christmas Child and a list of appropriate shoebox items
  • Create an engaging "Christmas party" atmosphere
  • Host a shoebox packing party

Organize an Operation Christmas Child Fair

  • Rent bounce houses, set up carnival games/crafts, have food donated, and invite the community to come
  • Make the entrance fee a shoebox gift
  • Have Operation Christmas Child theme games such as tossing the bean bag in the shoebox, shoebox packing relays, etc.

Encourage an Item Of The Month campaign

  • Encourage church members to donate one item each month to be used for shoebox gifts (see the Top 100 items that make perfect additions to any shoebox)
  • Many churches use this as an opportunity to collect shoebox gift items and then assemble them at the end of the year (see packing parties).

Use your Vacation Bible School

  • VBS is an excellent time to collect shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child: have the children bring a different item each day and then assemble the gifts at the end of the week
  • Host poster, banner, or flag-making contests with an Operation Christmas Child theme
  • Create a friendly competition where the class that collects the most shoebox gifts wins an ice cream party or other prize
  • Each child can fill out and color a Let's Be Friends! (PDF) page to include in his or her shoebox

Make an Operation Christmas Child 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 turned back in, they can be placed under the tree.

Include photos, cards and letters:

  • Encourage people to put pictures, cards and letters to the children in their shoebox gifts. Children who receive them love the personal connection with the person who sent their gift. Create cards for the children to enclose with the gifts
  • Have children paint their handprint on a card. It will read, "This is my hand. When you place your hand on mine, think about me. I prayed for you to receive this box."

Promote Operation Christmas Child at missions fairs/conferences

  • Host an Operation Christmas Child booth at the annual church missions fair
  • Promote Operation Christmas Child at district or area meetings of your denomination or church association
  • Tie in Operation Christmas Child with a church's annual missions week/conference or with their annual poverty awareness event.

Include Operation Christmas Child in musicals/skits

  • Incorporate Operation Christmas Child into your worship service through music
  • Song-writing contests with a theme such as "The greatest gift of all"
  • Create an original skit with a Christmas/Operation Christmas Child theme.

Share testimonies

When promoting Operation Christmas Child from the pulpit, it is effective to share spiritual impact stories.

Click here to watch inspiring videos from a team of pastors who recently went on an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox distribution trip in Costa Rica and saw lives changed!

Make Operation Christmas Child a family activity

  • Encourage moms and dads to participate with their sons and daughters in this hands-on mission project
  • Take a special family shopping trip
  • Serve at an Operation Christmas Child Processing Center (for those 14 and older in Calgary or the Waterloo Region)
  • Host a packing party with other families. Click here to download the packing party guide (PDF)

Encourage "In Honor or Memory" shoeboxes

  • Have a program in your church to pack a shoebox in honor or memory of someone
  • Create a card that would be filled out in the person's honor or memory and then 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 or in memory of someone.

Involve those who are housebound

If there are housebound members in your church who want to participate, but cannot get out or would have trouble assembling a shoebox gift themselves, have them donate money for shoebox gifts so youth in the church can go out in groups and buy items to fill the boxes, or have a packing party with children, youth, and seniors.

Hold wrapping events

  • Have Sunday school classes, senior groups, etc., start collecting and wrapping or coloring empty shoebox gifts
  • These wrapped/colored shoeboxes can be handed out when your church launches Operation Christmas Child.

Hold "Christmas In July" or "Half-way to Christmas" Parties

  • Hold a summer shoebox packing party as a great activity for children during summer break
  • Take advantage of the 'back to school' and end of summer sales to find quality, discount shoebox items.

Find out more about Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing parties or consider additional ideas for your community group

Ways you can help


Pray that every child who receives an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift will hear and know how much God loves them.


Help Samaritan’s Purse go beyond the shoebox and expand assistance to children, their families, and their communities. Donate Here