What to Do With All Those Freebies: Operation Christmas Child

Are you feeling the pinch? Struggling to make ends meet? The thought of Christmas got you down instead of excited? It’s a rough time for our nation right now and it’s hard to think of others while we’re tightening our belts.

Besides helping you and yours save money one of the reasons I blog is to encourage you to give freebies you don’t need away. Maybe you made money on hemorrhoid cream (see here!) or used a coupon to get Colgate for free plus overage. I know that some of you are having a rough time right now but I wanna encourage you to give things away to others who have needs. There is extreme poverty in some parts of the world and simple things can make all the difference. Last year I participated in something that if we had to write a check for we couldn’t have. If they’d asked me to give $400 we couldn’t have swung it. So what did I do? I gave free stuff. Stuff we didn’t need that others did. Through it I was able to help out little kids.

One of the main reasons I love to save money is that I love to be able to bless others. On one income this wouldn’t be possible without watching my pennies throughout the year.

One of my fave places to give to is an organization run by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, called Samaritan’s Purse. Their main program, Operation Christmas Child, brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love. Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed, shipped, and delivered across the globe. People of all ages can be involved in this simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ.

Honestly the thought of people going without upsets me but once I had Isaac growing in my belly it brought me to tears. The first time I made an announcement at our church about it and told them about children living without safe drinking water I broke down and I know it wasn’t just pregnancy hormones. Something had changed inside me and I was determined to give and give more than ever.

Basically, you collect things to go in a shoebox like toiletries, school supplies, toys, and candy. Then you pack the shoebox, indicate whether it’s for a boy or girl and include a $7 check. It can be dropped off at your nearest drop off location. We’ve been helping out for a while and it’s a very hands-on way to help those in poor countries. I know a lot of churches get involved as well as schools.

I have a friend who did it and spent $50/box. However, if you watch the sales throughout the year you can pack more boxes as you spend less per box but they still get goodies, meaning more kids benefit. So this year I’ve been stocking up on free stuff from WAGS and CVS, or when school supplies were super cheap at Office Depot, I went crazy! That’s meant that last year I only spent $75 but look what I got:

Tons and tons of stuff

I sorted it all into bags as the kids at our church will then put it in the boxes.I am not trying to toot my horn here, just helping you realize how far free things go! Because I’ve watched the sales, bought when things were cheap, and stockpiled, we packed 30 boxes! I am so excited that these children who normally wouldn’t get a gift will get a box full of goodies.

Isn’t bargain shopping AWESOME??!!

Go here for more details on the fantastic organization. Here’s my video about our OCC box.

Here’s the plan for Mummy Deals for this year. You’ll be hearing lots more from me and my VERY capable assistant, Kara, but here’s the scoop thus far.

Date: Tuesday November 3
Time: 6-9pm open house
Place: TBA
We need: Toiletries, hard candy, unused toys, unused clothes.
I need help. Here’s what we need:

  • You to show up on the night, help us wrap boxes and invite TONS of friends. Please invite Facebook friends, church groups, MOPS groups and more. It’s gonna be a fun girls night out.
  • 2 people to call dental offices and ask for supplies of toothpaste and toothbrushes to donate
  • 2 people to call local hotels and ask for donations of soap
  • 3 people to get shoeboxes from Payless, Wal-mart or anywhere else. You just have to ask.
  • Someone to make a flier and help distribute it.
  • People to post fliers on church bulletin boards, community centers.
  • Wrapping paper.
  • 1 person to contact the media to get more people involved.
Please leave a comment if you’d like to help. We really need YOU!


  1. Clair, I would love to help. Please just let me know what I can do!

  2. A Frugal Friend says:

    Great post!!!

    Just wanted to stop by and welcome you to Sprout's band of bloggers…..you'll love it and working with Sprout too! I didn't know we had any new members til you tweeted me the other day! Thanks!

    I look forward to getting to know you – looks like we already have one thing in common….LOVE DEALS!!!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow! It is amazing how many gifts you were able to provide. I know this has blessed the lives of many children.
    At the nursing home where I work as an RN, we participate in Operation Christmas Child every year. Staff, families and volunteers donate items, and then our residents sort them, and pack/wrap the boxes. The residents are receiving care from others all the time, and they really appreciate having this opportunity to give back to others.

  4. CAT Coordinator says:

    Clair … yes, the early season bargains for stuff like office supplies are the best! Also love the dollar stores … and Target and Walmart had some great deals this year too.

    We do OCC every year at our church and our packing event this year will yield 80 boxes … all packed with donations from those who attend our church. With some items, like candy (when it goes on sale), a $20 donation will buy enough candy to put some in ALL 80 of the boxes!

    And I'm with you for visiting business like dental offices and hotels for hygiene items. People love to give … we just have to ask!

    Also, thanks for the note on your open house for donation collections. I didn't think about the clothing part. What a great idea! I'm going to add that into my e-announcement for this week.

    I've subscribed to your newsletter today. I know lots of moms that could use the info that you provide. Thanks! 🙂

  5. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    Oh how
    giving! I'll see what I can do and spread the word.


  6. Not only do I like free stuff, I love OCC more. Kudos for using all those free items for the shoe boxes! I hope your post inspires others to pack as well!

  7. Real Life Sarah says:

    Wow! That is amazing! You know, this year when school started and the crayons and stuff were $0.20, I said to myself, "I know I need to stock up for some reason…" Well, I'm kicking myself now!

    Great job! I'd love to help you promote your packing party any way I can! (all the way from NC!)

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