On the campus of St. Catharine College and all around the United States, Christmas has come early this year, as people are busy packing simple shoebox gifts in order to make Christmas a reality for more than 7 million hurting children in over 100 different countries.
In 1993, Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief and evangelism organization, kicked off Operation Christmas Child ("OCC") in the United States by collecting 28,000 shoe box gifts. Those gifts were then delivered to children living in impoverished and war-torn areas of Eastern Europe. Now, 20 years later, Operation Christmas Child has set a goal of collecting that same number of 28,000 shoebox gifts right here in the nine small counties that make up what OCC calls the "Heart of Kentucky Area."
Last year, 309 shoebox gifts were packed by the residents of Washington County. This year, local OCC volunteers intend to double that amount in order to bless twice as many children with what is likely the first gift they will ever receive – at Christmas or anytime. A first-time partnership between local Operation Christmas Child volunteers and the students and staff of St. Catharine College will hopefully make that goal a reality. Washington County OCC Relay Center Coordinator Kylen Burns said she is thrilled about the opportunity to engage St. Catharine students in this simple but life-changing project.
"The staff and students at St. Catharine have a global focus and a generous spirit – a combination that makes this project a perfect service opportunity for the College," Burns said.
So how does Operation Christmas Child work?
Children, families, schools, churches and community groups pack empty shoe boxes with simple items most people take for granted, including toothpaste, toys and school supplies. The shoe boxes are collected at local relay centers around the country, between Nov. 18-25, 2013. Then the gifts are delivered to needy and hurting children around the world using whatever means necessary—sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, elephants, even dog sleds. While Samaritan’s Purse works to meet critical spiritual and physical needs including providing clean water, health care and food, Operation Christmas Child addresses a need for which children are just as desperate—the need to have hope and feel loved.
If you care for children and have an empty shoebox in your closet, you can participate with Operation Christmas Child! Step-by-step shoebox packing instructions are available at www.samaritanspurse.org You can get more information and packing ideas by following the "Heart of KY Area Operation Christmas Child" on Facebook.
St. Catharine College’s Student Government Association (SGA), along with Burns, played a role in helping Operation Christmas Child this year.
"SGA wanted to help send 100 boxes to the children, and it was going to cost us $700 to send the boxes, so we got together and did a few fundraising events," SGA President Starr Roberts said.
SGA sold raffle tickets for a chance to win a Kindle Fire, held a car wash and sold t-shirts during Patriot Madness, the opening event for the men’s and women’s basketball season.
With money still left to raise, SGA held a road block at the main intersection in Springfield.
"It was an extremely cold morning, but we weren’t stopping until the money was raised," Roberts said. "We raised close to $500 alone doing that!"
Contact Kylen Burns at (859) 336-1116 or Springfield Christian Church at (859) 336-7457 for more information about Operation Christmas Child.
Founded in the Dominican tradition in 1931 and sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, St. Catharine College, a Catholic Dominican college inspired by its founders, welcomes all to the challenging pursuit of truth, preparing them to become critical thinkers, ethical leaders and engaged citizens.