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Samaritan's Purse Shoeboxes for Pennies

Money Saving Tip of the Month (featured column)
submitted by Vikki Riddle-Cox of California

My family of 3 has started a shoe box tradition. This is our 2nd year trying it. Every time we buy a pair of shoes, we save the box it comes in. And for every pair of shoes we get, a less fortunate child gets a shoebox full of goodies for Christmas!

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We fund the dollar store items that go inside by recycling cans, bottles and glass all year long. We also pick up any loose change we find on the ground. Seems people pass up a lot of pennies! I found 2 today at the parking meter so I picked them up.

We rarely buy more than 6 pair of shoes in a year and it costs about $12 to completely fill a shoebox. We make a list of things to buy for a boy or girl in a certain age group and have fun seeing what we can get for our dollars.

My family decided this year to provide shoe boxes for the 10-14 year old boy and girl categories since it seems many older children are now parentless in other parts of the world and becoming parents of their siblings.

We shopped at Dollar Tree and 99cent only stores and found an abundance of items, so many, in fact, that I had a few left over with no shoebox to put them in!

Items we packed this year include YoYo's, Jacks, manicure sets, portable comb/brush mirror sets, toothpaste and toothbrush, bar soap and washcloths, playing cards, Disney Princess pen pad sets, journals, backpacks (99cents!), Spiderman activity sets, Hanes T-shirts (Only $1.00! so I also bought a couple for us), and more candies than you can imagine.

I divided up the bags so each shoebox has a nice assortment of hard and soft candies, gloves and matching scarves, trinket box (with an added inexpensive piece of thrift store jewelry in it), matchbox cars, mini birdhouses, paint a bank sets, inflatable balls, super bouncy balls, Frisbees and a photo of my family with a note reminding them that they are children of God, valued and loved, even if they don't know who He is.

This project teaches my children (18, autistic and 23, but still home) to always give back. They enjoy wrapping the boxes for Christmas too. We either drop them off at the church by the deadline (usually mid November) or we volunteer to help ship all the hundreds of thousands of boxes thru Samaritans Purse.

If you can afford to help cover the cost of shipping it's $7 per box, but we recycle enough to cover it, keep the earth cleaner, and have a good time!

The website for more information on "Operation Christmas Child" is www.samaritanspurse.org

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