We’ve done it. We have.

We’ve started a small movement for boys ages 10-14. Lest ye think it matters naught, stick around.

OK, I’m bad at surprises so I’ll get to the punch line.

Last week Elizabeth, Niece #1, and I spent four hours at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse in Denver helping to check and package boxes for OCC. An hour into in Niece #1 called out to me, “Aunt Amy.”

I paused, it’s not really a big chatting job and I was lost in thought about how I tend to romanticize semi-hard labor and then my nails break and my back aches I wonder why all parts of serving aren’t as glamourous and fun as shopping for children and making festive images for blog posts to get you and me off our butts. But I digress. “Yes dear one?”

“I’m packing a box for a boy next year. It’s been an hour and I’ve seen, like two. Two boxes in an hour.”

She added with her wry teenage smile (and the fact that she’s a much calmer personality than me and thinks I’m prone to hyperbole. WHAT? Me?!), “You are very persuasive.” 

Can we please have a moment of silence since asking you to tattoo this on your forehead might be going a bit far.

I told her, it’s not that I’m persuasive, it’s just so damn heart breaking to see girl box after girl box. OK, I didn’t actually cuss at my niece, however, the discrepancy is from the pit of hell. But redemption, she is a’coming! I know many of you packed boy boxes this year. Yay!!

So, here’s the plan for next year:

1. I’m going to call Samaritan’s Purse when it’s not the height of the crazy season and get some facts for us.

2. I’m going to make two PDF handouts. One with the plea for boys and updated gift ideas and another with just gift ideas. That way you can print out copies to share and leave at tables handing out information.

3. I’m now going to give you a short tour of the packing center so you are informed and pumped for all the future boys who will get boxes — without your nails having to break or your back needing to ache :). It is encouraging to know what happens to your boxes!

I love giving tours! Welcome to OCC


There are nine OCC centers in the U.S. that will process 8.3 millions boxes with total goal of 10 million boxes from all countries. Denver’s goal is 800,000 boxes and from personal experience, a line with six people working for 3.5 hours can process about 1,200 boxes.

Volunteers are trained for about 10 minutes in a professional and effective system. Truly, I’m impressed. Then you are assigned to a  line.


Elizabeth is in the gray jacket and her job was to open the box, remove and deposit any money and pass it on to her daughter who would go through the box, removing illegal items and, if needed, restocking or beefing up (you’d be surprised how many aren’t full). She then would set it on the top of the white shelf where the lady in orange would tape the box closed. The next person to open the box will be the child!

The taper would then stack the boxes and my job was to sort them by gender (boy/girl) and age (2-4, 5-9, 10-14). The goal was to get at least 14 boxes in a BIG box. Pastors and leaders are told there are at least 14 boxes inside so they can know roughly how many kids to invite to parties and events.

I’m going to show you two pictures. There is a difference — can you spot it? (I’m pretty sure you will.)




How many “Girl 5-9” boxes are filled at a time? And how many “Boy 10-14?” Two to one. In full disclosure, there are also two “Boy 5-9” big boxes, but the number #1 box by far are “Girl 5-9.” I get it, I really do. They are safe and and familiar :). But armed with our lists, we’re going to help boys 10-14 be fun and familiar too :)!

This is what a fullish box looks like. Please, please don’t pick plastic containers that are too large. I felt bad when I couldn’t get at least 14 boxes to fit, knowing there would be disappointed kids and that some kids would get twice as much as others.


And then it happened! The Red Sea parted and Moses walked forth with the first box for a boy 10-14 our line saw! Give or take, that’s how it want down. I told my new taping friend I needed a picture and could she hold the box?


Every couple of hours, all work is stopped and everyone one in the warehouse prays together for the boxes, people distributing them, and the kids receiving them.


And sometimes a gem like this is found in a box. (My taping neighbor apparently wasn’t having the nails issue I was.)


Doesn’t this just fill you up?! And make you want to pack more boxes for boys? Several of you have asked me how many extra boxes were packed for boys based on you sharing or responding to the gift ideas. Mind sharing in the comments? Which picture was your fav?

Merry Christmas to the boys :). You are not forgotten by us. We love you too.

Categories: Community, Faith, Holiday



Leave A Comment

  1. Laura Connell December 5, 2014 at 5:52 am - Reply

    I went and packed an extra box for a boy 10-14 thanks to your suggestion.

  2. Nancy December 5, 2014 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Amy I had several people tell me they packed a boy’s box in that age group because of your blog that I shared. It may be just a dent but it made a difference.

  3. Erica D. December 5, 2014 at 6:51 am - Reply

    I packed a box for a 10-14 year old boy online! Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Cathy Miller December 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    I packed 6 boy boxes.

  5. Susan Gaines December 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Gosh, I love you! Thank you for this wonderful post.

  6. Heather December 5, 2014 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    I love the second to last picture…all that lifting for the recipients. His Hands in action.

  7. asheritah December 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    What a great idea! I’m a terrible gift-giver in general, but Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful ministry. My family and I used to hand out boxes to Gypsy children when we were missionaries in Romania. I saw just what a difference those boxes make to a child’s Christmas.

    Personally, I would struggle with knowing what to pack for a teenage boy, so your list of suggestions sounds like it would be perfect! Thanks for ministering in this way!

  8. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup December 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Love this ministry! Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Amber @ Beautiful Rubbish December 8, 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Wow, look at the difference this post made…

    I loved reading this and learning about a discrepancy I was not aware of. I love, most of all, that these boys matter to you. I know I will approach opportunities to give like this differently, for how easy it is to choose the gender or age group that is most comfortable or familiar or “fun” and not even realize who is being left out.

  10. VICKY October 2, 2015 at 11:06 am - Reply

    My family and I are in a mission to pack boxes for 10-14 yr old boys ?. Thanks for the post. By the way, what are the illegal items that are not allowed and that y’all have to remove?

  11. Jan March 21, 2016 at 8:29 am - Reply

    I have recently heard about the 10-14 boy shoebox shortage (after the 2015 collection) so this year my husband & I are packing 20 boxes for this category. So glad this has been brought to our attention. We are passionate about Operation Christmas Child & are blessed to work with a church year round (St. Louis).

  12. Trish October 28, 2016 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    This is my first year and I am old packing boxes for 10 -14 year old, half boys/half girls. Harbor Freight is the best place for boys: Stubby claw hammers $3.49, pliers $2.99, multi screw driver free with coupon, work gloves free with coupon, flashlight free with coupon, carabiner with 15′ tape measure $0.99, 6″ scissors free with coupon. I went to Academy Surplus and found fish hooks, small weights, small bobbers and fishing line which I wound around pieces of cardboard to make them smaller to fit in the box, about $5 per box. Walgreen’s end of summer sale had Hacky Sacks for 0.69, small kites for 0.75 and sunglasses for 0.49. Of course school supplies, hygiene items, balsa planes for $1, and a stuffed animal on top.

  13. Karla Heesacker November 6, 2016 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    This is the first year for my family. I read somewhere else that there was a need for older boys. We have 2 children that we were going to involve. So my daughter chose to do a girl, 5-9 (of course) my daughter is 15. My son is 13. so he chose to do a boy his age. My husband and I each chose to do boys 10-14 as well, and we spoke to the kids about listening to what God is calling us to do. And to pray for guidance. So I hope this is okay with Operation Christmas Child, but I really got the impression that I was to do a box for a special needs child, and my special needs child was a sight impaired child. A blind child. So I put together a sight impaired box and marked it as such. I pray that my box makes it to the intended recipient. God willing!!! Oh, I said we were going to make 4 boxes, then 6… then I needed more stuff for inside the boxes… then I needed more boxes…. then I needed more filling stuff…. then I needed more boxes…. then more….. well now we have 26 boxes to go! Isn’t God wonderful??? He fills our hearts with Love and he blesses us with the means to do so. So count down until I can deliver them to the dropoff site.

    • Julie December 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Now I’m curious. What did you put in the sight-impaired box? I had never thought of that.

      I packed a box for 10-14 boy this year. My first OCC box. It was too full so it became 2 boxes. I mystery shop (see Volition.com) and use the purchase requirements for the boxes. One Legos, one sports stuff (yes, including the requisite soccer ball). For next year, I will be stealing..er, borrowing ideas from here. The fishing gear and toolboxes sound like winners!

      • Karla D Heesacker October 23, 2023 at 11:25 pm - Reply

        Wow old post. But googling my name.
        To answer your question- I put toys that were tactile squishy balls. Balls with nubbly things. A harmonica lightly scented lavender soap ( extra sensitive smell). Things they could feel. Smell. Hear. Glasses (cheaters) because someone in their vicinity can use glasses. Super soft tshirts.

  14. Megan Jordan November 12, 2016 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been looking for a few days for which gender/age group was underrepresented, and could not find it anywhere on the OCC website. My suspicions, however, rang true after reading a few of your blog posts. My family and I are packing all 3 of our shoeboxes for 10-14 yr old boys this season, and probably every year from now on. I want all kiddos to feel they are loved <3

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