Release Date: 2/12/2013
Alpha and Omega, a non-denominational Christian organization on campus, is famous for its major mission trips abroad every summer. However, the group also makes a positive impact every year a little closer to home.
This past December, 14 A & O members along with Dr. Ricky Casey, the group's advisor, helped work in the Santa Store with the Urban Mission, a non-profit organization in Oklahoma City.
Adriana Beltran, a junior management and accounting major from El Salvador and this year's A & O president, said this holiday trip to Oklahoma City has become a tradition.
"Anna Jo Terrill, a 2007 Ozarks graduate and past A & O member, had family contacts with the Urban Mission. She started the tradition of A & O participating in the Santa Store every year and we've kept it going for years," Beltran said.
Alpha & Omega President Adriana Beltran (center) helps a customer in the Santa Store during the organization’s annual “mini-mission” trip to Oklahoma City.
The Santa Store is designed by the Urban Mission to help low-income families have the necessary supplies to celebrate the Christmas holiday. The event is set-up in a massive warehouse where each parent and child can pick out gifts for family members. The event also supplies the families with clothing and food.
"We split the families into two groups: parents and children," Beltran explained. "We divided our team up with them. Some were helping kids pick out gifts for their parents. Others were helping parents pick out clothes, toys, and food."
Beltran admits that the timing of this particular mini-mission, which is the last weekend before fall semester finals, can be challenging, but she was pleased with the amount of service from A & O members.
"I didn't know how many members would be willing to go the last few days before finals, but everyone who went was happy to be able to help," she said.
Beltran emphasized that the mission trips aren't about how far you go or how long you stay, but that you are helping people who need it. She spoke of one particularly touching moment during the weekend.
"Most of the members who spoke Spanish stayed in the parents section, because there were many Hispanic families that needed help and could only speak Spanish," Beltran began.
"I was helping a lady who began explaining how much the Santa Store was a blessing to her. Her 16-year-old daughter, while traveling from the United States to Mexico, had recently been shot seven times. Her daughter was alive, but would need several surgeries to be well. This lady was so happy to be able to get her a gift, this year especially," Beltran explained.
"I just wanted to cry, but I told her that God would be with her during this time."
Beltran and the other members of A & O are currently in the planning stages for their annual mission trip abroad, but are always mindful of opportunities to help wherever they can.