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How Jessica Burns Serves Others with Shoeboxes

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Jessica Burns says, "I hate shopping, but I am a tad addicted to couponing, especially when it benefits a good cause. My heart aches for children around the world who have nothing to call their own; no little things to add joy to their days, no Jesus in their lives!" So she has found an inventive way to combine her love of couponing, her desire to help, and her ability to blog. It's called ClipWithPurpose, and it all comes down to shoeboxes.

You see, there is an organization called Samaritan's Purse, whose mission it is to help provide hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance through existing evangelical missions. One of that organization's relief programs is Operation Christmas Child, which asks for donations of Christmas presents packed in shoeboxes or other similarly-sized containers. These presents are then collected annually in November and shipped to various places in need throughout the world. The shoeboxes can be pledged, packed, and filled throughout the year. And Jessica is good at coming up with fun, inexpensive ideas on how to fill them.

"I have been couponing for years and years and I realized that many of the items that I can purchase for free of pennies (toothpaste, toothbrushes, school supplies, toys, etc) could be used in shoe boxes.  When I came to this realization, I started packing hundreds of shoe boxes each year.  I knew that other people would love to get involved with helping children in dire situations around the world if they knew that could do it inexpensively.  So, that is why I started ClipWithPurpose," she says. So, in the "craft and DIY projects" section of her site, she shares how to make pencil cases out of scrap cardboard and jumpropes from pvc pipe and rope. In her "deals" section, she gives the scoop on where you can get toothbrushes for 25 cents. And in her "coupon help" section, she offers a full course in intense couponing, from how to organize them, to best places to use them, etc.

So far this year, Jessica's readers have pledged 22,478 shoeboxes. She hopes to have 25,000 shoeboxes pledged before Operation Christmas Child's national collection week, which starts November 12th. "People should easily be able to pack shoeboxes for around $10 each (including a $7 donation) if they follow my blog. Imagine how many boxes you can fill and how many lives you can brighten!" she says. One reader Tiffany took up Jessica's fill-a-shoebox-for-$10-or-less challenge, and filled one with a beanie baby, crocheted hat, flashlight, washcloth, pens and paper, and a toy without paying a dime.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi said, “Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.” Making service a habit is what Jessica Burns is all about.

You can follow Jessica at, at Facebook/ClipWithPurpose, and @ClipWithPurpose.

What are some inexpensive things you can put in shoeboxes to brighten others' lives? What are some other simple ways you can serve others?

Feature photo of shoeboxes courtesy of Samaritan' Other photos courtesy of Jessica Burns.

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