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See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RMN = Retail Me Not
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Last week I shared a new partnership for the upcoming weeks with Operation Christmas Child.  It has already been fun this week trying to make sure that I’m always thinking about donating, and I hope that you have also had an increased awareness of how easy it is to donate and help others.

The folks at Operation Christmas Child wanted to help motivate and excite you while you think about and pack your boxes and they have come up with an awesome contest.

Now through Nov 15, as you pack your shoe boxes, snap a few pictures and save a few receipts for a chance to win a $300 Visa gift card!

To win this is a little more detailed then leaving a comment.  All shoe box entries will be judged and The Most Awesome Shoe Box will be picked based on frugality but also on uniqueness and personality.

The Details

Start by filling up a shoe box! (Go here for more details and tune in next week for a detailed post and video of my family packing boxes.)

The winning box must:

  • Be a standard size shoe box or a plastic container (10”-13” long by 6”-7” wide)
  • Have (4) items under 50¢ in your box (save your receipt to provide proof of purchase)
  • Have (1) FREE Item
  • Include a photo and a letter
  • Contain Gender Specific items from the following categories:
    • Toys
    • Hygiene Items
    • School Supplies
    • Candy

To really make your box stand out:

  • Personalize your shoe box, and share what makes it personal in your entry email.
    (ex: one volunteer in Denver packs a Strawberry Shortcake box every year because it’s what she always loved growing up)
  • Include a Unique Item that many wouldn’t think of but a child a world away would love (like an expandable towel)

Once your box is all ready:

Enter your box into the contest by, emailing the following to OCCcontests@samaritan.org:

Tell us about your FREE item.
Tell us what makes your shoe box gift personal.
Provide your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number in the e-mail


One photo of your packed box (see example)
One photo of all of the items that went into your box (see example)
A photo or scanned copy of your receipts for the items under $0.50

In the subject line of the e-mail put, Southern Savers Contest

The Winner will be decided based on the following criteria:

  1. Meeting the criteria for entry
  2. Most unique item.
  3. Best value items.
  4. Creativity in personalization

Print official rules here. The Winner will be notified by e-mail on or before Nov. 18, 2010.  Non-winning entries will not be notified.   All Most Awesome Shoe Box Gift donations will be distributed to children through our OCC program and cannot be returned.  Donations are tax deductible, however, Samaritan’s Purse does not give individual receipts for shoe box donations.  For other questions, please contact contests@samaritan.org.

    • Sara

      i just picked up 3 shoeboxes last week at church so that each of my 3 children could fill a shoebox for another child somewhere in the world. this is our first year doing it. i'm really hoping this can be a learning tool and a blessing to each one in my family as we attempt to bless others :)

    • Jlundy2

      Seeing the flip flops in the box just jogged my brain. I was in Old Navy today and all their clearance is 50% off. They had flip flops that would end up being about 75 cents! There were also cute t-shirts that would end up at only a few dollars. I will be headed back tomorrow! Thanks!

    • knc

      sounds like fun! I just took pictures of all the items I purchased for shoe boxes. Will have to take a few additional pictures for the competition. Thanks!

    • Scarmstrongs

      OK, I love this challenge. I did this 2 years ago but ended up spending $175. They were overstuffed boxes with great items but due to funds it did curtail my shoeboxes last year. I now have no excuse with ON shoes and great coupons from Southern Savers. Thanks Jenny!!

    • Jadabug1

      This is soo much fun each year and being that it goes to someone that is less fortunate than me, I really being able to do this. Thanks for helping this cause out!

    • chall64

      I have done this for years and will certainly have fun taking pictures and trying to add some low price items to those items already purchased. I work on filling my boxes all year when I find sales and this helps me to fill 3 or 4 boxes for the price one would normally cost. Thanks for helping advance this wonderful cause.

    • jhh

      I am so excited to prepare the shoe box gifts. It is my first year!!! The only thing that bothers me is that I cannot find any shoe box in my house! Any good idea to get shoe boxes????

      • Shayelyn

        Well, it's a good excuse to buy shoes! Or you can pick up the plastic containers at the dollar store.

        • Pdudeck

          I worked at the main processing center in Charlotte last year. Sadly the majority of those plastic boxes arrive broken and have to be repacked. That left the shoe box hospital short on regular shoe boxes the last week. I was scrambling to find some for them.

      • Mary Lou

        Some shoe stores sell boxes for 10 cents each.

      • Joan

        In the past, I was the organizer for Operation Christmas Child at my church. I use to collect hundreds of boxes by simply asking shoe stores and dept. stores like Kohl's if they will let me have their empty boxes for a charitable purpose. Sometimes they looked at me funny, but were usually glad to help when I explained what they were for. It saves them having to pay an employee to break down the boxes and stack them up to be hauled away. Simply ask the manager what day they break down their boxes and whether they would allow you to come in that day to collect them.

      • Rachael

        TJMaxx, Ross and Marshall's don't use the boxes their shoes come in and would be worth asking.

    • kjmiller

      What a wonderful idea! Can't wait to get started and I know my preschoolers will be thrilled too. And hey, because it is a CHRISTMAS (and not a yuletide, seasons greetings, happy winter, etc..) box, wouldn't it be great to include a gospel tract about how to be saved and/or explain in a letter why we celebrate the birth of Christ?! Even if it's just a verse like John 3:16 (For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..). I am so excited about this opportunity to tell some child about how they can have eternal life (and miss hell) by trusting in Jesus. Praise God! :)

      • Barb75Dean

        Be careful not to put anything “too religious” in the box. Many of these go to countries where Christianity is against their laws and the recipients can get in trouble for having the religious materials. We always write a note to the recipient telling them that there are folks around the world who love them because they are special. Writing John 3:16 or another verse is pretty safe…just think twice about inserting tracts. This is such a worthwhile effort and fun to do. Thanks, Jenny, for promoting this cause.

        • kjmiller

          Thanks Barb- how wonderful that you have already been a blessing to others through this ministry! And you're right.. I hadn't thought about if these boxes might go to places where Christianity is not tolerated or accepted. I did check the OCC website and couldn't find any clear guidelines (although they do mention that their mission is “To demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”). Is it possible that the organization itself provides information on a country-by-country basis to recipients? More clarification on this would be great. Thanks again!

          • Dodge05mag

            Operation Christmas Child puts a story book type track in each box in the language from that country explaining the Gospel. :)

            • Rachael

              Hello all! This is Rachael from Operation Christmas Child. We do have a list of items we prefer you exclude such as: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snowglobes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

              Fill your box with the items that God lays on your heart. Yes, we do take the boxes to some of the darkest places on earth to shed His light! The Gospel literature booklet is handed out alongside each box. And… most of these children will have the opportunity to participate in a 12-lesson discipleship course through the local church!!

              Thank you all for your excitement and participation! God bless!

            • kjmiller

              Thank you Rachael!!

          • Pdudeck

            If you want your box to go to a Muslim country then don't put in items with Christian symbols or pigs or half-naked Barbie type dolls. There is a special processing line at the operating center that decides if a box can go as a “regular” box or to a restricted country. Put what God lays on your heart. If you have a heart for Muslim kids, you will avoid stuff that would be offensive to them. As Rachel says below, the Gospel message and materials will be provided by Samaritan's Purse in a language the kids understand. Just look at the restricted list and follow that. Every year I am amazed at all the liquid soaps and lotions and shampoos and foodstuff other than candy that has to be removed. But nothing is wasted. The “bad stuff” will go to a local charity. So don't fret, just fill some shoe boxes and bless a kid.

        • Spetee72

          This is a christian organization. And the boxes are dispersed through other church's and christian orginacations world wide. How can you not put religious items in the box? We put small NT bibles in our boxes. We do them as a Church. Also once you ship the boxes off to head quarters, they are opened and sorted through to make sure nothing bad is in there or harmful.

        • Perrie

          Operation Christmas Child takes care of shipping the story of Jesus in their language, they make sure to include books for each child receiving a box, we don't have to but that is their purpose along with the box of gifts is to share that Jesus died for them and their is a God who loves them.

    • Bkvanhorn425

      i have volunteered in the processing center in charlotte, nc. when they are checking shoeboxes for “sensitive” countries, they check to see if the items are ok to send to those places where christianity is not practiced.

    • Hi, Jenny. This is such a GREAT idea! My family will definitely participate, and I am wondering if you would give me permission to repost this on my blog, http://www.strongmothers.com to help spread the word? Thanks for all you do!

    • Maria

      I have a question, Jenny. We have done these boxes for the last several years, so I look for inexpensive toys and things throughout the year. I have a box full of things that we have purchased for pennies just for these boxes. The problem is that I know about what I paid for them, but I don't have the receipts to prove it. I have some really good stuff, too, but since I don't have the receipts, that probably throws me out of the contest.

      • Julie

        I have the same “problem”. Me and my family look for really cheap or free stuff as soon as we hand over our OCC boxes to our church. Maybe we will make a extra effort to find some more stuff just for this contest.

    • darkenmind1326

      i have mixed feelings about this…

      • Holtzclaw5


      • Pdudeck

        I'm not feeling real positive about this either. Like some others, I have been gathering items for a few weeks now and do not have the receipts. But as much as my family could use $300, I feel like this contest kind of “taints” my motivation, so I'm not going to participate. I'll just take my boxes to the processing center. The reason I fill them is to express God's and my love for these children who have so little. I don't want $$ to become my motivation for what I put into my boxes.

        • krose410

          I get what you're saying and I agree but if you won you could drop the $300 gift card off at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter

    • Iluvadeal

      I have already packed one … I will have to take pictures. I will be coordinating OCC for my church! This is my first year.

    • I'm so excited about this idea! I just posted about it on my own blog and am doing a giveaway of 3 Starbucks gift cards for anyone who comments on my site that they are participating. (Click my name for the link). This is so inspiring & I hope a lot of people are encouraged to take part. It is neat that we can save enough by using coupons to share the wealth with others. Thanks Jenny!

    • Anti Aging

      The contest will encourage more people to participate who might not otherwise. Though their motives may not be pure, it will still help those in need. If you win, perhaps you can donate the card to a needy family in your church.

    • Tcherry2

      You can get plastic shoe boxes at Big Lots for 95¢.

    • Funnygirl

      I love this idea. This is my first year to prepare a box and I found a local church who accepts them. I would have done this even without the contest but I was so excited once I finished one. You could do so much with $300 in boxes or local charities, etc.

    • Tracy

      Does anyone know when the deadline is/was? I thought it was the 15th based on the post above, but the “official rules” say through the 12th. We were going to pack boxes anyway, but my daughter worked on a theme this year for the contest and now I'm afraid we may have missed the deadline.

    • Occ2010

      who won this contest. will you be posting the details of their box?