Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that helps people in need. It collects shoeboxes from around the world and sends them to children in developing countries.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

What is Operation Christmas Child?

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian international relief organization. It serves children in need around the world by providing them with essential items like toys and school supplies.

It’s easy to participate: you simply buy or make gifts for kids, pack them into a shoe box or plastic bag, and then drop off your donations at collection points across Canada. The program also provides packing materials to help you get started.

But it may surprise you that Operation Christmas Child is not just about giving away presents; rather, it’s about sharing the love of Jesus Christ through simple acts of kindness—and these acts have made a huge difference in countless lives over the last 30+ years!

Who runs Operation Christmas Child?

  • Samaritan’s Purse
  • Operation Christmas Child
  • World Vision
  • World Relief
  • Heifer International
  • Christian Children’s Fund (CCF)
  • Boys and Girls Club of America

You can also send your gift through a local church or charity in the United States.* YMCA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity

How did Operation Christmas Child start?

The idea for Operation Christmas Child was inspired by a boy named Martin. In the 1960s, he gave his father a gift—a small Bible with Psalm 91 printed on it. The next year, John W. Huddleston (who would later become known as “The Giver of Gifts”) received a little Bible from another child in England and thought about how happy Martin must have been to give something to someone else.

Huddleston wanted to return the favor, so he started Samaritans Purse with his wife, Ruth. It wasn’t long until they had collected so many Bibles that they needed more volunteers to sort them into packages for distribution around the world. To accomplish this task efficiently and sustainably, they came up with Operation Christmas Child: an outreach program where families in need could assemble shoeboxes filled with essential items like toys or school supplies that would be sent overseas through their organization’s partnerships with churches and other organizations across America and abroad

When did Operation Christmas Child begin?

Operation Christmas Child began in 1989, when Franklin Graham and his wife, Jane, were visiting orphanages in Belarus. The Grahams were overwhelmed by the plight of children who had lost their parents during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. They decided to send shoeboxes packed with gifts to these children—and we’ve been sending them since!

We now have over 100 countries participating in Operation Christmas Child. In many countries where there are no orphanages or ministry partners available to receive boxes on behalf of the local children’s ministry, our ministry staff hand-pack and deliver boxes themselves!

Why does OCC exist?

Operation Christmas Child exists to provide a gift that will be a tangible reminder of God’s love and the hope of Jesus, a gift that may not otherwise have been available to them.

For many children in need, this shoebox is the only present they will receive during the holiday season. It gives them an opportunity to experience something that all children deserve—the simple joys of play and discovery!

What basic items should I include in my shoebox gift?

For children, the basic items should be something new and appropriate for their age. The gift may be anything that is safe and appropriate for the recipient, which means it should not contain anything dangerous or inappropriate (e.g., sharp objects). It also cannot be used as a toy when received (e.g., toothbrushes) or have writing on it that identifies the sender. Additionally, there must be no indication of who sent your shoebox gift so recipients can feel confident sharing what they receive with other family members and friends in their country of origin. Ideally, your shoebox gifts will help children develop skills needed for daily life in their communities by providing practical items such as clothing or school supplies like pens/pencils.

How should my shoebox be packed?

  • Pack your shoebox with items that are easy to carry, such as school supplies, hygiene products, and clothing.
  • Include a gift tag with your name and address on it.
  • Put a letter in your shoebox for the child that receives it—you can include a Bible story or photo of yourself and your family.
  • Write an encouraging note from you to them!

Can I follow my box to see where it goes and who receives it?

Yes, you can follow your shoebox to see where it goes. You can also see who receives it. Simply visit the Operation Christmas Child website to find out more information about how your shoebox gift has helped others!

Find out how you can change lives with a simple gift.

You can make a difference in someone’s life by simply giving them a gift.

If you have a heart for helping others, Operation Christmas Child is an easy way to do that.


We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the mission behind Operation Christmas Child and the many ways that you can get involved. As we’ve seen, there are plenty of ways for you to help out whether it’s through volunteer work or sending your own shoebox gift.

How to Make Holiday Traditions Extra Fun(Opens in a new browser tab)