Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
What if there was a way to give back to others, bring a smile to a child’s face, or deeply impact the life of another individual? Each year, Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization, invites individuals and families to help change lives by participating in their project, Operation Christmas Child. As stated on their website, “Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has partnered with local churches around the world to deliver 157 million Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to children in need in 160 countries. Each one—packed full of fun toys, school supplies, and hygiene items by a family or individual—is sent with prayer that the child who receives it will experience God’s love through their simple gifts.” Through the service and hard work of thousands of volunteers, these gifts are taken to locations around the globe.
Head cross country and track and field coach Jim Brewer first introduced Operation Christmas Child to Saint Martin’s University in 2014, and invites all members of the SMU community to participate in this good cause. He remarks, “with Operation Christmas Child, it allows an opportunity for the Gospel to be shared where it may not normally be offered.” These are the three guiding principles that Samaritan’s Purse has adopted: evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication. In other words, through the offering of Christmas gifts to individuals around the world, the hope is to share the love of Christ, inspire others, and bring about goodness.
One girl from Central Asia named Yuliya decided to share her own transformational story. In 2001, Yuliya received a shoebox filled with gifts from Operation Christmas Child. This box was donated by a girl from the United States. Inside the shoebox was a stuffed puppy dog (the nicest toy she ever owned), a drawing sketch pad, and a personalized letter which read: “I am praying for you” and “God loves you.” These powerful messages stirred in Yuliya’s heart and inspired her to learn more about God, whom she had previously not known of. In the years to come, Yuliya not only discovered a personal relationship with the Lord, but also experienced God’s deep care for her. Specifically, she comments, “The Lord used a shoebox, which was sent from the USA, to reveal himself and his love to me.”
Do you wish to get involved and help bring goodness to the lives of others, one shoebox at a time? If so, prayerfully consider taking part in Operation Christmas Child this year. All you need is an empty shoebox to fill with gifts (toys, hygiene products, school supplies, etc.) If interested, the specific directions can be found online at www.samaritanspurse.org. After filling a shoebox, you can bring the box to Coach Brewer, whose office is in the Charneski Rec Center, or you may drop the box off at any local church that is holding a collection. Westwood Baptist Church is the local regional center that is collecting boxes, but other nearby churches are also accepting boxes.
This year, National Collection Week of the shoeboxes is from Nov. 12 to 19. Please drop off the boxes prior to this week or as early as possible to ensure that they are sent to Samaritan’s Purse on time. As a final remark, Brewer says: “Try it. Try it just once. Everyone can do something at least one time. You don’t know the impact your involvement can make. God bless!”