Operation Christmas Child

For the 2015 school year, 94 shoeboxes given by Lambert High School students were sent off to diverse countries to bring cheer to children living in destitute conditions. (Used with permission by Lauren Pearson).

For the 2015 school year, 94 shoeboxes given by Lambert High School students were sent off to diverse countries to bring cheer to children living in destitute conditions. (Used with permission by Lauren Pearson).

Once again, the Christmas season has arrived sooner than expected. Lists and planning are in the works as the days leading to the 25th swiftly fade away. Most families around the world have the luxury of being able to provide for their kids; they are able to gift their children every single item on their wish list. This is no crime, it is simply just dependent on their career, where they live, and their financial status. There are families, however, who can not offer one another presents, in the United States, and worldwide.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian organization that helps plentiful people around the world that require physical and spiritual needs. The organization’s mission is based off of the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. Their mission statement, “To follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel,” has inspired many around the globe to get involved in the program.

Bob Pierce founded the association in 1970. His goal for the establishment was “to meet emergency needs in crisis areas through existing evangelical mission agencies and national churches.” In 1973, Bob Pierce met Franklin Graham, his eventual inheritor of the foundation. The two ended up traveling together on a six week mission to Asia, and immersed themselves in the poverty and destitute places that people are living in. Pierce died of leukemia in 1978, and a year later, Graham became the President and Chairman of the Board of Samaritan’s Purse.

Samaritan Purse has given relief to victims of war and natural disasters in Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Kosovo in the 1990’s, the El Salvador earthquakes in 2002, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project. Shoeboxes are filled with gifts of all kind, varying from toys, school supplies, and letters with the intent of displaying God’s love in evident ways to children in need all over the globe. Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes for children and sent them to more than 150 countries, through this program. This year, Operation Christmas Child’s ambition is to gather enough shoebox contributions to reach another 12 million in need. Shoeboxes are collected in the United states, Australia, Finland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and in the U.K.

Anyone who is able is encouraged to make and give a box. Donations that are received have been from individuals, families, churches, and groups. Lambert High School has also been active in devoting time, resources, and shoeboxes in previous years. For the 2015 school year, 94 shoeboxes given by Lambert High School students were sent off to diverse countries to bring cheer to children living in destitute conditions. Maddie Matthews, the president of Redefine for the 2015-2016 school year, along with Lauren Pearson, were on the community relations team. Both are very passionate about the association.

Redefining Beautiful, a club for all grade levels of Lambert ladies, is a Christian-based club that works towards learning what it means to be beautiful in God’s eyes. On December 10, fifteen girls from Redefine are volunteering at a processing center for Operation Christmas Child. They will work a four hour shift. At the processing center, hundreds of people willingly come to carefully inspect the millions of shoeboxes collected before they are sent overseas. Around 80,000 volunteers serve every year at the processing centers. Last Christmas, at the Atlanta location, over 1.5 million shoeboxes were packed and processed to be sent to devastated countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hailey Fortenberry, president of Redefine for the 2016-2017 school year, shared about her personal experiences with Operation Christmas Child, as well as the club’s previous involvement at the processing centers.

“Every year, around this time, my family puts together two shoeboxes, one for a boy and one for a girl. We’ve been donating to this organization since I was in elementary school. Last year was my first year at the processing center with Redefining Beautiful. With it being our first year, the leaders wanted to make it a team bonding experience. Initially, it was to hang out with each other, enjoy Christmas, and collect service hours. However, while it was still all of these things, it turned out to be a blessing for many of the girls. A lot of us went back to the processing center with our churches, families, and friends. It was awesome to go with a group of girls from Lambert, because although it was a school community, we were striving to impact the world.”

Hailey describes the processing center as very organized and efficient. When the group first arrived, they filled out forms, went to a training room, and learned about the different stations. The Redefine group spent two hours in an assembly line fashion, checking boxes, stuffing them with extra toys if they were lacking, and taping boxes. Then, they sorted them based on age and gender to be sent off to other countries.

“Our time there flew by so quickly. I could have stayed forever. The environment was so lively and all the volunteers had the same motivation: to make a difference.”