Campus Participates In Operation Christmas Child

Shoeboxes bearing gifts for Operation Christmas Child donation program. Photo courtesy of Jessica Noble

Shoeboxes bearing gifts for Operation Christmas Child donation program. They were shipped to people in third-world countries, poverty-stricken individuals, as well as suffering children throughout the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Noble

D.C. Miles
Junior Editor

MONTICELLO – A Christmas donation program making impact internationally and locally departs from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

   Operation Christmas Child, headed by the international relief program Samaritan’s Purse, consists of wrapped boxes filled with gifts and necessities. These boxes, gathered in many areas of the United States and the world, will be shipped to people in third-world countries, poverty-stricken individuals, as well as suffering children throughout the U.S.

   Rob Leonard, director of the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship at UAM, made several inquiries about the program.

   “What the organization does is they encourage people to fill shoeboxes with candy and gifts. It can be toys, clothes, sometimes deflated soccer balls or footballs, stuffed animals – it can be any number of things.” It’s specified for either a boy or a girl.

   The program has made community and international efforts since 1990, after being founded by Franklin Graham, son of famous televangelist Billy Graham.

   On the Operation Christmas Child website the mission statement reads, “The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

   Each box costs $7 to ship. People donating fill the shoe boxes, place a check for the amount to ship and take the box to a drop off point – usually a church or a community center.

   From there, the collected boxes have been sent to a central location and mailed out all over the world.

   Leonard touched on how many boxes come from this area alone.

   “The truth is that the organizations that participate in this area generally donate somewhere between two to three thousand boxes,” Leonard said.

   The collection site for this area is located at Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

   Leonard said the MBSF  has been involved with the program ever since the fellowship first heard of it, which includes five years of service. He said they virtually collected for the entire campus including who participated in the donations.

   On campus, Leonard recalled who brought boxes to send.

   “We had quite a few boxes that came through the Nursing Department. Our organization (MBSF) brought a few and several of the athletic teams brought boxes, so it was pretty widespread,” he said.

   Leonard said there were probably between 50 to 100 boxes from campus involvement alone.

   “We started advertising around the first of November,” Leonard said.

   Jessica Noble, junior psychology major, regularly announced about the donation project and the MBSF’s participation in early November at Renown, a campus worship service held on Thursday evenings.

   He said next year the group will make sure to get a head start to try and collect more boxes for the program.

Leonard said people who donate boxes can follow where their donations were sent by visiting the website for the program.

   “It’s a great way to share Christmas – to start the Christmas season, because it really puts you in the mind of those that are struggling on the planet, and those that really need to be encouraged. Most of us have a hard time trying to find presents for each other because we have everything,” Leonard said.

   Leonard said he never heard anyone say they found it hard to find Christmas presents for the shoe boxes. He said everything put in the boxes will be needed and appreciated.

   “When Christmas shopping, you don’t really know that what you’re buying is something that anybody really needs, you’re just trying to give something because it’s what we do on Christmas. But this, this seems to be a lot more than that. It means more,” he said.

   Noble said, “It’s an awesome opportunity to change a kid’s life, for someone who hasn’t got Christmas before. It feels great working for someone you don’t know to have a great Christmas. It’s a special feeling.”

   For more information, contact Rob Leonard at (870) 723-5530, or Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church at (870) 367-3311. To find more information internationally or follow donated boxes, visit the Operation Christmas Child website at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/.

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