The air is cold, the leaves have fallen and there is snow on the ground. Halloween has come and gone, and Thanksgiving will be over before we know it. However, all this ending of seasons and holidays is not something to be sad about. In fact, many people are thrilled because that means Christmas is right around the corner. Holiday music has already started playing, people are indulging in Hallmark Christmas movies and certain folk are already putting up their Christmas decorations. One special tradition has just started up here at Northwestern.
Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan’s Purse every holiday season. Samaritan’s Purse has provided international relief since 1970 and describes itself as “A nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”
Operation Christmas Child provides an opportunity to give children in underdeveloped areas a gift for Christmas. Participants are given a shoe box that is decorated like a Christmas present. After receiving their box, participants are encouraged to fill up the box with different toys, games and other activities for children to enjoy. After filling their box, participants turn it back in so that it can be shipped off for children to receive when Christmas comes around.
NW staff and students have been taking part in this activity for years. They continue to find joy in filling up boxes, knowing that they are giving to something bigger than themselves.
Zoe Heemstra, a senior marketing major and one of this year’s justice and service co-coordinators, was able to give insight on this tradition’s operation at NW. “We have partnered with Loralie Wiese and New Life Church in Sioux Center for several years, so we wanted to continue that partnership. In addition, we did some extra research this year to dive into what Operation Christmas Child entails. Samaritan’s Purse, the organization that coordinates it, has a very wholistic mission beyond just dropping off presents for children in need. After learning this information, we thought it was an important project to continue at NW and support their mission,” Heemstra said. This partnership with New Life Church gives NW students an opportunity to live out the idea of loving your neighbor.
These boxes allow for memories to be made by those who receive them and those who put them together. Junior criminal justice major and justice and service co-coordinator, Gabriel Rathbun, recalls his favorite part about the process. “My favorite part of this project would be praying over the boxes that are sent out. We pray that the gifts that they receive may show them the love of Jesus Christ. It is a fun and meaningful opportunity that we can do to give to those who might not be as fortunate to receive gifts during the season of Christmas.”
Whether you’re someone who waits until after Thanksgiving to get into the Christmas spirit or you start on Nov. 1, we can all agree how wonderful of an opportunity Operation Christmas Child is during this season of giving.