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What Goes Into a Shoebox?

Kids smiling and holding shoe boxes from Operation Christmas Child

WOW gifts: Delight a kid! Start with a medium to large item that will capture the child’s attention the  instant he or she opens the box.

– Ideas include: Soccer ball with pump, Stuffed animal, Toys (puppets, trucks, etc.), Doll (baby, Barbie,  etc.), Musical instrument, Outfit, Shoes

Other Suggestions

Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls,  toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc

School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators,  coloring and picture books, etc.

Non-liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.

Accessories: T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra  batteries), etc.

Crafts: Make your own items such as hair bows, finger puppets, and friendship bracelets.

A Personal Note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself, your family, or group. If you include your name and an address, the child may be able to write back.

Do Not Include

Candy; toothpaste; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military  figures; chocolate or food; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or  lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.


Are playing cards allowed?

Card games with animals, numbers or letters can be included in your shoebox gifts. However, poker  cards or face cards (King, Queen, Jack, Ace) are not allowed, as the countries we ship to, have asked us  not to send them as they cause challenges in their communities.

Can we include batteries?

Yes, batteries can be included in your shoebox gifts.

Can videos, CDs, and DVDs be included?

Yes, all of these may be included in your shoebox gifts. However, keep in mind that the children may  not have a DVD player or CD player available.

Can we include paint sets or glue bottles?

No, both of these items are liquids and can’t be included in your shoebox gifts. However, dry paint sets (such as watercolors) or glue sticks are OK to pack!

Can we include a toolkit with nails, screws, screwdrivers, and hammers?

Yes! The only tools that can’t be included are saws or pocket knives.

Are scissors OK?

Yes! Scissors are OK to include in your shoebox gifts.

Can items with camouflage be included?

If the child can wear or use the items without looking like a soldier, they are OK to include in your  shoebox gift. So items like camouflage pencils, notebooks, cups, socks or underwear are OK (any camo  colors). However other camouflage items like hats, t-shirts, pants, shorts or backpacks (any camo colors)  could make the child look like a soldier, so those items are not appropriate.

Are squirt guns allowed?

Squirt guns can be included as long as they do not look like real guns. Brightly colored squirt guns are  great to pack in your shoebox gift.

Can glow sticks go in a shoebox gift?

Yes, glow sticks are OK to pack in your gift. If the tube breaks, the liquid does not spill out and can’t  damage other items.

Can we include wet wipes?

Yes, wet wipes do not have enough liquid to spill out into the shoebox so they are OK to include in your  gift.

Can rubber balls be included if they have liquid glitter inside?

No, these would be considered inappropriate because of the liquid.

Is lip gloss OK to pack in a shoebox gift?

Lip gloss is a liquid and can’t be included. However, Chapstick, lip balm or lipstick can go!

Can I include toothpaste in my shoebox?

No, toothpaste is not allowed in shoebox gifts due to customs regulations.

Is Play-Doh OK to pack in a shoebox gift?

Yes, Play-Doh can be included in your shoebox gift.

Can compact mirrors go in a shoebox gift?

Yes. Compact mirrors can be included because if the glass shatters, it will be contained.

Can dice go in a shoebox gift?

No, with or without a game, dice are not appropriate. The countries we ship to have asked us not to send  them, as they cause challenges in their communities