Release Date: 11/10/2011
Sometimes it is easy for people who have been blessed with abundance to forget that there are others in the world who haven't been as lucky. This year, students in Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) want to encourage people to remember those less fortunate than themselves, and through a project called Operation Christmas Child, to give people an opportunity to share their blessings with others.
Operation Christmas Child is a project run by Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization with one simple mission: to help those in desperate need wherever they are found. Through the Operation Christmas Child project, groups or individuals can collect Christmas gifts which will be packed into shoe boxes and sent to needy children around the world.
Kelly Gorny is coordinating the Operation Christmas Child project at Ozarks, along with fellow BCM members Jessica Temple and Karlye Tolley. Gorny said the idea started with the church family at First Baptist Church in Clarksville. BCM members decided to sponsor boxes of their own, and to help collect gifts from others who were interested in participating. The group has planned events in the various campus residence halls where people can donate items, pack boxes, and offer prayers for the children who will receive the boxes. Gorny says that this simple yet powerful project is one way members of BCM are promoting the giving spirit of Christmas.
Each shoe box will typically contain items for either a boy or a girl in one of three age groups: ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Common gifts are things like toy cars, bracelets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, marbles, jump ropes, footballs, Play-Doh, Christian coloring books and pop-up Christmas books. Gorny said many people also include a personal letter for the child who will be receiving the box. The destination country for the boxes varies from year to year; the Samaritan's Purse organization selects the area where they feel the need is greatest.
"I personally appreciate the opportunity to spread the love of Christ to children in need during the time of the year when love is most desired," Gorny said. "It is one small way to put a smile on someone's face and to know that you provided for a child when they might have not been provided for otherwise."
So far, BCM has organized collection drives in Smith Hall and in MacLean Hall, packing almost a dozen boxes. The group will continue to accept donations through the November 21 deadline. Individuals who would like to participate should assemble a shoe box of gifts for a boy or girl in one of the target age groups. Because the supply of boxes is very limited, participants should provide their own shoe box if possible, and are also encouraged to include a $7 donation to cover shipping charges. To donate to Operation Christmas Child, contact any member of Baptist Collegiate Ministries, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.