What fits in a shipping box?

22 spiral notebooks waiting for some Afghan students to use their combined 1,540 pages.

The boxes we use to ship our donated school supplies to Afghanistan are provided for free by the United States Postal Service. They are the large flat rate boxes which measure 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ in size. They currently cost $12.95 per box to ship regardless of the weight.

So how much exactly fits in a one of these boxes? Here are a few examples:

Photo #1 is of a box that has 22 notebooks (each with 70 sheets in them) layered so that we can fit in as many notebooks as

More than 1,000 pencils waiting for little fingers to wrap around them and start to write.

possible. Of course the final number of notebooks in a box depends on the thickness of the notebooks – but this box would help 22 students to have their own notebooks.

Photo #2 shows a box that has 1,152 pencils and 6 boxes of Crayola crayons. It’s pretty amazing to think that 1,152 students could each get their own pencil from this box. Or 576 students could each get 2 pencils from this box. I’m pretty sure the teacher will keep the six boxes of crayons and let all the students share

669 BiC pens packed up for the long journey to Afghanistan.


Photo #3 has a box that holds 669 BiC pens – this was a test box to see how many of the pens Kacie Segovia convinced BiC to donate would fit in a single shipping box. Kacie will pack the rest of her 2,331 remaining pens herself during our next packing party.

As you can see, the contents of a single box can truly make a difference. So please help the USF Honors students enrolled in this class fill many more boxes – their goal is 120 this semester. We’ll gladly take your new and slightly used school supplies off your hands.  We are especially on the hunt for more notebooks; here’s the entire list of items we collect:

  • spiral notebooks
  • pencils
  • pens
  • small portable whiteboards
  • markers
  • erasers
  • chalk
  • crayons
  • metric rulers
  • pencil sharpeners
  • dull tipped children’s scissors
  • construction paper
  • we also love used backpacks and book bags

Or if you don’t have time to go shop for school supplies and there are no slightly used items in your household, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our shipping fund through the Holland and Knight Charitable Foundation. More information about that here:

Support Our Shipping Fund

Amazing how much the contents of a small box like this one can mean to a child in a far off land. Now imagine being the American soldier who gets to hand out the supplies and see the smiling faces – it’s pretty priceless.

Female US soldiers hand out notebooks to Afghan girls at a local school (Photo by SMSgt Rex Temple - 2010).

About Liisa Hyvarinen Temple

Multimedia journalist & multimedia production instructor at USF from 2002 to 2009. Former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow (1999). Winner of Walter Cronkite political reporting award. Proud military wife.
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