Santa received a little help from Elkin High School students this year as students brought presents to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Supporting the charity has become an annual event at the high school, and students typically fill 40 to 45 boxes for needy children with necessities such as bar soap, toothbrushes, small toys, and school supplies such as pencils and paper.
Health Occupations teacher, Patty Crosswhite, explained that Operation Christmas Child is a “project to bring joy and happiness to children around the world who may otherwise not experience joy. Some may never have received a Christmas present in their lives.”
Operation Christmas Child began in 1993 under the direction of Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, which is described on its website as “a Christian relief and evangelism organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.” This year, Samaritan’s Purse hopes to mark the distribution of over one hundred million shoe boxes with a celebration in Orlando, Florida in April 2013.
Elkin High School students have contributed to that collection drive each year. Typically, students find inexpensive and suitable gifts at stores such as Family Dollar or the Dollar Tree. They then bring them to the school to be sorted. The gifts are placed inside red and green shoe boxes provided by Samaritan’s Purse, or a shoebox brought from home, and are labeled with the suitable gender and age of the child who should receive them. The boxes are then bound with rubber bands.
Crosswhite takes the boxes to Boonville for mailing, and the Health Occupations Club (HOSA) makes a donation of seven dollars per box for postage. Although shoe box destinations vary from year to year, Operation Christmas Child boxes have been distributed in the United States, Canada, South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe in years past.
Crosswhite took thirty-five boxes to the post office this December, but she did not seem to mind the labor involved in the charity. “I personally see it as a wonderful opportunity for me and my students to experience the gratification that comes with serving the needs of others.”
Several teachers collect gifts for the boxes every year and some offer incentives to encourage donations. April Swarey, an English teacher, offered a pizza party this year to the class which donated the most. Her second period English I class won the party by donating over fifteen shoe boxes worth of gifts. “I thought Operation Christmas Child would be a good community service project for our students, and they certainly embraced it. It was wonderful to see how generous our teens can be,” Swarey commented.
Betsy White, a math teacher at Elkin High, also enjoys participating in Operation Christmas Child and has experienced only good results from the project. “I have participated in Operation Christmas Child since it began, and I see it as a good way to spread the word about Christ as well as give children Christmas presents.”