Our family has fallen into the tradition of collecting certain items all year long from our everyday lives – things we get, but don’t really need.
Kids Meal Toys
Our kids just hand over the toys when we grab a kids meal on the go. They say, “Here mom, for the shoeboxes!” We keep a clear bin in our kitchen cabinet to collect these toys throughout the year and other small toys that will fit into a shoebox. Small items from birthday goodie bags are PERFECT to add to our shoebox toy collection.
Travel Size Toiletries
I have learned a secret when we stay at hotels – bring my own shampoo and soaps – then, each night take the complimentary ones they provide and put them in my makeup bag. They will usually refresh your supply if you’re staying more than one night. I bring home my travel size goodies and keep them in a bin on the shelf in my closet. This provides for an excellent supply to give in homeless bags or boxes. Bar soaps are especially great!
Dentist Goodie Bags
Toothbrushes and toothpaste from the bag our dentist gives with our semi annual cleanings. That’s automatically 8 toothbrushes and toothpastes we get as a family each year to keep and giveaway. I also usually get a few more from the dollar store to add to our collection. And sometimes hotels provide these too!
Extra Hats, Scarves, Gloves and Socks
Somehow, our family always ends up with a massive collection of winter gear – and we can never use it all. I go through our supply in the fall to pull out the things we don’t wear. These items are perfect to put in bags for the homeless and help keep them warm. The Dollar Tree also has very nice warm and thick thermal socks we purchase to add to our donations.
Snack Size Food
Especially items with protein to give energy and nourishment – like peanut butter, energy bars, Vienna sausages, etc. We don’t necessarily save these all year – but we go on a shopping trip before our shoebox packing night to stock up on these items.
Duh – we don’t throw away a single shoe box that ever comes into this house. They stay in our closets and garage until we take them to church. We have a storage room upstairs that holds them all year long from church members. My mom loves to wrap the boxes in pretty paper so the recipients feel like they are getting a beautifully wrapped gift.
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Then, when Christmas comes along – we gather our collection of items and put them into shoeboxes for the homeless in our local community. Our church has a shoebox party every December!
Maybe you’re only familiar with shoeboxes that go overseas for children. That’s how we started our shoebox tradition at our church, but quickly realized the huge homeless community in our back yard.
Here’s the thing, friends – you don’t have to do shoeboxes. I have a friend that packs ziplock bags with her kids and they keep them in the car to hand out in their community when they see someone in need!! Yes!!!
You and your family can do this.
Our church distributes our shoeboxes through a local ministry that goes to the homeless and provides for them in the name of Jesus.
Start your own family tradition this year of collecting items like these that can be used for those in need. I promise you won’t even miss them 🙂
Pack them into shoeboxes or ziplock bags.
We pack boxes for children and adults – it’s important to always label boy/girl or man/woman. That way they have appropriate items for the one in need.
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