My Birthday – Operation Christmas Child Style

If you’ve been visiting The House of Hills at all this month, you know two things – 1) I’m participating in the 30 Day Giving Challenge 2) I wanted an Operation Christmas Child Birthday party.

I first brought up the idea of my special birthday party at the end of October. It came to me as I was thinking of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to give and not receive. What started as a tiny idea soon blossomed as I realized my church was asking us to fill boxes as a congregation. It was perfect! I could take boxes right to church the Sunday after my party.

Then, I had to figure out how I wanted to accomplish this task. I’d heard of playgroups getting together where everyone brings multiples of a few items and they all share. But, this was going to be bigger. I wanted to do 100 boxes. Yep, the goal was 100. So, I talked to everyone who would typically buy me a birthday present and told them that I wanted cash instead. Yes, you have to understand that I’m direct like that. It’s something I would do. Then, I used that cash to buy things for the boxes in bulk from Oriental Trading Company and Discount School Supply. It was much cheaper per unit that way.

Yesterday, we set up a packing station in our living room. People grabbed a shoebox and went down the line grabbing one (or two) of everything there. We had…

  • Coloring books (Thanks Princess)
  • Crayons (Thanks Mom)
  • Watercolors (Thanks Dad)
  • Stickers (Thanks Jenni A.)
  • Notepads (Thanks Lois)
  • Bouncy Balls (Thanks Sue)
  • Mini Plush Animals (Thanks Sweetie)
  • Fun Bands (Thanks Danielle)
  • Small Slinkies (Thanks Misty)
  • Toothbrushes (Donation from North Georgia Smiles Dentistry)
  • Toothpaste (Thanks Dan)
  • Candy (Thanks LOTS of people)
  • Playdoh (Thanks Debbie)

Once the guests had one (or two) of everything we provided, they finished packing the boxes with stuff they had brought with them. It was so fun to watch everyone trying to cram as much as they could into a shoebox! Hysterical. We did learn that if you removed the packaging from items, you could fit them in better. We ended up with four trash bags of packaging. Good grief! We had people bring things from Legos to stuffed animals to stamp sets to…well, you name it, and it probably went in a box. It was GREAT fun.

The final step was to go to the note writing table. Each box we packed had a personal note inside. I LOVE that. I love that some child, somewhere in the world, will know that someone is thinking of him and praying for him. The best notes were the ones the kids wrote. Why? Because those were the most true and heartfelt ones of all. It was AWESOME to watch all the kids that came over get into the process. It was amazing to see families working together to do something for someone they will never met. Tears to my eyes AWESOME friends.

The final step was to tag the box with the appropriate age and gender of the recipient, put a rubber band around it, and stack it. Both My Sweetie and I tweeted as the pile grew. It was so exciting to see the pile getting bigger and bigger. I was thrilled with how many folks came by and how much support we had. The final tally was 89 boxes! That’s right! We packed 89 boxes. It wasn’t the 100 I was going for, but we got REALLY close. I was thrilled to fill the van today and bring them in to church.

What an amazing birthday this was. I got to see friends and family. I got to have good food. Yes, I cooked. And, it was good. And, I will be posting recipes later. I got to give, give, give, give until my heart wanted to burst. I got to listen to Christmas music all day. I got to do all my favorite things. However, the thing I loved the most was watching my precious girl get into the giving spirit. I loved watching her blossom as a hostess and organizer. She was integral in the set up. She was integral in the packing process. And, she was integral in letting folks know what they were supposed to do. It was like having a mini-me standing there at the assembly line explaining the process to people as they came in. What a joy it brings to a mother’s heart to watch her child give all day long. There wasn’t an “I want” in the day. Well, except when she wanted the second cupcake, which I let her have.

So, all in all friend, it was an AMAZING day. I was dog tired at the end of it, but I can’t wait to do it again. In fact, the House of Hills is already making lists and figuring out how we can do it bigger and better next year. Thanks to all my friends and family who gave. Thanks to all my friends who came. Thanks to everyone who prayed for us and sent us fun Facebook and Twitter messages. Thanks especially to My Sweetie and My Princess who helped me have what I really wanted for my birthday.

29 thoughts on “My Birthday – Operation Christmas Child Style

  1. You brought tears to my eyes again! You will ruin my reputation! Can’t wait to hear Mags’ take on the day. Wish we could have been there. Did I tell you how proud I am to have you as my daughter?

  2. I have done so much crying over OCC this year! It might have to do with being really, REALLY pregnant. What a blessing for your birthday. I know those will be 89 HAPPY KIDS!! Amen! I hope next year my daughter will “get” the shoebox-packing and giving.

    • Awww… Didn’t mean to make you cry. Those hormones!!

      It was really interesting at the party. There was a definite line between a 5 year old and a 3 or 4 year old on the entire “getting it” thing. We had MAJOR meltdowns of the 3 and under set when the things they thought were cool vanished into the boxes. The older kids (like 5 and up) were REALLY excited about giving. They had a BLAST seeing how much they could get in the boxes!

  3. We are sou proud of you and Maggie and David. It is truly a wonderful experience to be selfless! I know I would have cried if I was there too. Great work.

  4. I’m so excited for you and all the kids who will receive those heart-filled boxes. What an awesome gift and blessing. Wish I could have been there to help. Love ya!

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