Students prepare Christmas gifts for children

John Brown University is hosting its annual packing party for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child on Nov. 7.

Samaritan’s Purse says on their website that Operation Christmas Child is “the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind.” Through this project, people pack shoeboxes full of gifts for children, which are shipped with a gospel booklet to impoverished children all over the world. You start with an average shoebox. Decide on the gender you are packing for and age range (2-4, 5-9 or 10-14). It is then requested that you pray for the child who will be receiving your shoebox.

The collection week occurs between Nov. 16 and 23. This is when the boxes can be dropped off at more than 4,000 locations throughout the U.S.

Bonnie Mitchum, leader of the University’s Operation Christmas Child ministry wrote, “Operation Christmas Child is so much more than just a shoebox, it is full of hope, love and grace. I want to show students that they can make a difference in a child’s life with these boxes. Through these gifts we are showing God’s love by packing shoeboxes for children in need.”

Mitchum even explained that this might be the first gift many of them ever receive. “The treasures and personal letters inside communicate that someone cares for them and gives them an opportunity to experience the love of God.”

She also wrote that these gifts connect us to one another. “Every gift-filled shoebox is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship—transforming the lives of children and their families around the world through the good news of Jesus Christ!”

Mitchum explained that the best part of the project is that every child receives a Bible in his or her own language. According to the project website, the children are also “invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson discipleship program. They learn from trained local volunteers what it means to faithfully follow Christ and share their faith with others.”

The tradition started in 1993 and has delivered more than 124 million shoeboxes in 150 countries. Operation Christmas Child hopes to deliver 11 million this year. The boxes are collected from the U.S., UK, Australia, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany and Finland.

“This year, Operation Christmas Child became a CAUSE Ministry here on campus and we just talked with the SMLT and asked them to partner with us in order to collect items for our packing party,” Mitchum wrote.

Kristen Underland, communication major working with Student Events and Activities, said the organization teamed up with SEA this year so that students could get one dollar off their Mock Rock tickets by bringing an item to be packed in a shoebox.

Mitchum wrote that the partnership worked well, but they are still looking for more help. “We are still working on getting more items before our packing party on Nov. 8 from 5-9 p.m. in Simmons Great Hall B. ”

Their goal is to pack 150 boxes.

“One thing I really want students to understand is that the shoeboxes do not just impact children around the world but right here at home as well. God is at work in this project and we can do mission work here on campus as well as around the world,” Mitchum said. “As we pack this year, we need to keep in mind that the greatest gift, the love of Christ, is packed in every shoebox.”