12 Million Shoeboxes In 2024 For Children Worldwide!

Operation Christmas Child’s goal is to ship more than 12 million shoeboxes for Christmas 2024. Operation Christmas Child is the number one shipper of shoeboxes each year in the world. How did this begin?

  • The Making of the Shoebox: Until the 19th century, shoes were generally made by hand in small workshops by cobblers. As this footwear was made for a customer’s specific order or in limited quantities, there was no great need for shoemakers to create significant storage space or require adequate ways to protect their goods. However, the rapid development of innovative manufacturing processes within the footwear industry soon required good storage for the newly mass-produced product.
  • The Manufacturing of the First Commercial Box: The first commercially-made cardboard boxes were simple affairs, formed from a single layer of brown cardboard likely covered in white paper. These were very useful for storing products in retail establishments, but they were not strong enough to withstand continual handling.
  • Healey and Allen: Two English inventors were awarded a patent for pleated paper in 1856. This ‘corrugated’ material was used to line men’s tall hats of the day. In 1871, Albert Jones of New York City patented his design for corrugated board with a single paper face which was used for wrapping glass bottles.
  • Oliver Long: In 1875, he produced corrugated cards with paper on both sides of the fluting. The strength achieved soon led to reinforced boxes being made from his patented material.
  • Henri Norris: Taking the process a step further, he began to manufacture double wall sheets comprising of two fluted layers sandwiched between three sheets of paper, and by 1890 cardboard boxes had also became the preferred packaging for fruit and fresh produce.
  • Robert Gair: Having emigrated to the USA in 1839 at the age of 14, Scotsman Robert Gair opened a factory producing paper bags in Manhattan in 1864. Gair discovered that he could make prefabricated cartons by cutting and creasing paperboard in one operation, and by 1879 he developed a technique for the mass production of cardboard boxes. The Robert Gair Company began to manufacture corrugated cardboard shipping containers in the USA in 1895. The material would be cut to shape and scored, and the box and lid would be folded to shape after which the corners were held together with ‘stay’ tape (and sometimes stapled for added strength).

  • The Marketing of the Shoebox: Early in the 20th century, footwear became a fashion item for the general population rather than simply a practical necessity. Gradually, the shoe box came to play an essential role in point-of-sale packaging, and featured illustrations of the footwear as well as corporate logos.
  • The Multiplication of the Shoebox: Shoe manufacturers needed to get their products onto retailers’ shelves, so demand increased on the box makers to provide ever-larger quantities of different-sized containers in many color variations. This led to significant investment in new machinery, including platen press die-cutters and automatic paper covering machines. Large paper covering machines were designed to accommodate 4½-inch deep boxes, which meant that most sizes of shoe box could be manufactured with this same process. Many millions of paper-covered shoe boxes were made while they were the storage of choice. Today, shoe boxes are available in an incredible array of shapes and sizes, and they are made from a variety of materials, including corrugated and non-corrugated card, fabric and plastic.

With the above in mind, I want to bring focus to The Ministry of the Shoebox. In the summer of 1993, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham received a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in Eastern Europe. Franklin agreed, but figured Christmas was months away. He forgot about the promise until he received a call back around Thanksgiving asking about the gifts.

Franklin reached out to a pastor friend in Charlotte, North Carolina, asking him to help with the shoebox need. Additionally, with shoebox gifts coming from Canada, Samaritan’s Purse sent 28,000 shoebox gifts to children in the Balkans that Christmas.

Every year since, Samaritan’s Purse has collected shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for children around the world. Since 1993, more than 220 million children in more than 170 countries and territories have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. The project delivers not only the joy of what, for many kids, is their first gift ever, but also gives them a tangible expression of God’s love.

You are invited to join Operation Christmas Child movement for 2024. We are working hard to give more than 12 million shoeboxes to children in more than 100 nations this year. Please be sure to visit OperationChristmasChild.com and join the movement today!

We are synergizing our efforts with OCC to take the Gospel to the young and old; to easy and hard places throughout the world. All of us together, can make Christmas dreams a reality!