Project Overview

What is Operation Christmas Child?
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Our mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in their own communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We ship these simple gifts outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease; and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S.
Can I find out where is my shoebox sent?
Yes! You can discover the destination country of your shoebox gift by making your $9 per shoebox suggested donation online. Activate your shoebox tracking label at samaritanspurse.org/activate or print your own label by donating on our Labels Landing Page.
Who started Operation Christmas Child?
The program was started in the United Kingdom in 1990 by Dave and Jill Cooke. Three years after this beginning, the Wales-based shoebox gift project merged in a partnership with Samaritan’s Purse, allowing us to share 20 years of expertise in relief and aid work with the project, and expand the reach of the shoebox gifts to more than 28,000 children that year. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to over 188 million children in more than 170 countries and territories.
Why shoebox gifts?
Shoebox gifts demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. By partnering with the local church worldwide, each shoebox gift is a powerful tool for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What happens after my shoebox gift is delivered?
Local ministry partners distribute your gifts to children in their communities. After receiving shoebox gifts, many boys and girls are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, our 12-lesson discipleship program. Through the program, ministry partners are able to establish long-term, caring relationships with children and families, sharing the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more about how God is using Operation Christmas Child in the work of evangelism, discipleship, and the multiplication of believers.
Are gifts delivered by Christmas?
Shoebox gifts are shipped out from our Processing Centers by the middle of December, and depending on the distance they must travel, some are delivered by Christmas—primarily those in Central/South America and Eastern Europe. Most of the gifts are sent via ship. Although the collection of Operation Christmas Child gifts is during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, the delivery of some gifts may be delayed due to complex international shipping procedures. They may not clear customs in receiving countries until spring. In addition, many countries that receive shoebox gifts must transport the gifts to rural areas using very poor roads. Distributions typically occur from late December through spring each year, extending the joy of Christmas to children that receive them!
Can I sponsor the child who received my shoebox gift?
Operation Christmas Child is unable to facilitate this; however, you are welcome to include personal contact information at your own discretion in hopes of establishing communication with the child who receives your gift. With a $6 donation to The Greatest Journey, you can also sponsor one shoebox recipient’s complete participation in our follow-up discipleship program, including workbook, graduation certificate, and a copy of the New Testament written in his or her own language. Samaritan’s Purse also has a gift catalog with a variety of items that support the needs of children and families outside of shoebox gifts.

Packing and Delivery

Where can I get a box to fill?
Boxes can be picked up at drop-off for the school and preschool beginning October 5 and at Sunday services beginning Oct. 4.
Where do I get shoebox labels?
Labels for your shoebox are provided with the boxes provided by OSLM.
Where should I take my packed shoebox gift?
After you fill, label, and rubber band closed your box, bring it back to OSLM. For school and preschool students drop-off week is November 8-12. You can also drop it off by Nov. 13 at either Sunday worship service.
How should secure my box?
We prefer that you secure your shoebox gifts with rubber bands. This way gifts can be processed more efficiently at our Processing Centers. If wrapping your gift, be sure to wrap the box and lid separately so that it can be easily opened without ruining the wrapping.
Do items need to stay in their original packaging?
No, you’re welcome to remove any item from its original packaging in order to better fit these items into your shoebox gifts.

Gift Suggestions

These frequently addressed items ARE allowed in shoebox gifts:
playing cards, batteries (in original packaging or with both ends taped), wet wipes or plain alcohol wipes, toy spiders/bugs/snakes, superheroes or other licensed characters, items with company logos, all types of scissors, squirt guns (that don’t look like real guns), glow sticks, compact mirrors, lip balm (non-medicated), play dough (store-bought), solid stick deodorant, makeup (non-liquid), adhesive bandages (non-medicated), disposable or reusable feminine hygiene products, eating utensils, marbles, or Bibles or other religious literature or symbols.
These frequently addressed items ARE NOT allowed in shoebox gifts:
Vaseline®, scary items (things that will frighten a child rather than bring joy), war-related items (such as toy soldiers, military vehicles, or wearable camouflage), liquid paint sets or liquid glue, rubber balls with liquid filling, liquid lip gloss, matches or fire starters, seeds, sand/rocks/shells gathered from nature, all types of food, candy, or gum, medications or vitamins, toothpaste, nail polish, money or play money, baby powder, baking soda, razors, liquids or lotions, breakable items or glass containers, aerosol cans, or used clothing or toys.
These frequently addressed items may or may not be allowed in shoebox gifts.
Camouflage or Military-related Items: Wearable traditional camouflage is not allowed; pink or bright colored camouflage is ok. Camouflage pencils or other non-wearable items are likely fine to include. The words “Army,” “Navy,” etc. are also acceptable when not part of a wearable camouflage item or military-related toy. Tool Kits; Multi-tools (No Blades): Most tools are fine with the exception of knives, saws, or razor blades. Hammers, nails, screwdrivers, etc. are all fine. Seashells: Store-bought items such as jewelry, picture frames, or other décor that include shells should be fine to include. Seashells that were personally collected from nature are not allowed. Soap: At this time, there are no specific requirements for packing bar soap. However, bar soap is an item of increasing regulatory concern. It’s best to keep soap in original packaging with an expiration date of at least 6 months after National Collection Week. For the same reason, homemade bar soap is discouraged; however, bar soap will not be removed from your shoebox gifts in 2021 regardless of what kind it is or how it is packed. Homemade Maracas or Bean Bags: Any homemade items with filling MUST have synthetic filling such as plastic beads or pellets. Rice, beans, rocks, aquarium gravel, wood pellets, etc. are not allowed. A note regarding filling can be included for clarification during processing. Any further questions regarding a specific item may be e-mailed to occinfo@samaritan.org

Labels & Tracking

How do I get a label?
Labels and a How to Pack a Shoebox brochure will be included in each box you pick up at drop off or on Sunday.
What is Follow Your Box?
Follow Your Box describes the feature available to you when you use a QR-coded shoebox tracking label. By making a donation online to activate a shoebox label or receive a printable label, you can discover the destination country of your gifts.
How do I attach the label for tracking?
Be sure to attach your label to the lid of your shoebox gift before you drop it off. We don’t recommend taping directly over the QR scanning code as this may create problems with the scanner’s ability to read the code. Remember it’s best to adhere your label on the lid of your shoebox, preferably toward one end (away from the center) of the box. In the Processing Centers, boxes are taped in the middle, so proper placement eliminates taping over the labels.
How do I activate my labels?
To activate your label(s), scan the QR code with your smartphone camera or QR scanning app, and follow the pop-up link to the website. Your label will automatically appear in your cart for checkout. You can add more by scanning more labels or by manually entering the nine-digit code on each label.
I put the label on my box but do not get results in the tracking tool.
There are a couple of possibilities here. Either your label was damaged or activation was not completed. Be sure you are entering the same email address used to complete the online activation donation or the correct alphanumeric code from your label. If you donated via PayPal, you will need to enter your PayPal email address for tracking. Email occinfo@samaritan.org for further assistance.
How do I confirm if a label is activated?
Once your label has been activated you will receive a confirmation email that should list which codes you have activated. Please note that when you donate via PayPal the electronic receipt will be sent to your PayPal email address. Refresh the inbox of the email address you used to complete the online donation and search for an email from updates@e.samaritan.org. Be sure to check your spam folder or junk mail inbox for the email. You may need to add Samaritan’s Purse info@samaritan.org and updates@e.samaritan.org to your safe senders list to ensure you will receive communication from us. If you still can’t locate your email receipt and tracking label, email occinfo@samaritan.org or call 1-800-353-5949 and a representative will be happy to send a new receipt.
Can I use an adhesive label without activating it?
Yes, you can still use an adhesive label even if it has not been activated. You do not need to mark through the QR code or alter the label in any way. However, please note that in order to discover the destination of your gift, the label must be activated.
How do I track my gift?
Start by visiting their shoebox tracking tool (https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/label-options#tracking). Enter either the email address used to place the online transaction or the alphanumeric code as it appears on your label for tracking results. This should be a nine-character code for adhesive labels or a 15-character code for printable labels. Any printable shoebox tracking label is automatically connected to the email address you use to complete the transaction. Adhesive labels or those cut out of a brochure can be connected to your email address by activating them online. Please note that when PayPal is used to complete the transaction, your labels will be connected to your PayPal email address. The QR scanning code on your shoebox label enables us to scan shoeboxes during processing and record their shipping status and destination country in our tracking tool. Shoebox tracking information will only display in the tracking tool after your shoebox gifts have been processed. Before they are processed you may receive an error code or only be able to view past years’ results. Please allow time for us to process your gifts. Processing typically occurs from late November through mid-December.
How soon can I track my gift?
You will be able to view the status of your shoebox gifts at two stages: 1. after they have been processed and are awaiting overseas shipment, and 2. after they have been shipped to a destination country Most shoeboxes are processed in the weeks following National Collection Week, late November through mid-December each year. After your gift has been processed, it will be noted in the shoebox tracking tool that your shoeboxes are awaiting shipment. The tracking tool will also note when the shoeboxes have been shipped to destination countries. This could happen in quick succession or a shipment could be delayed because of customs procedures. If you have any questions about the status of your shoebox gifts, email occinfo@samaritan.org.