by Hayley Golden
The joy that comes from unwrapping a gift is enthralling. The concealed gifts ignite curiosity, while elation and delight shine forth as they’re opened. Christmas, a holiday celebrated by 92 percent of Americans (pewresearch.org), has a gigantic impact on people all across the nation. Gift unwrapping has become a crucial aspect of Christmas for many celebrators.
For millions of children in developing countries, however, this beloved tradition of unwrapping gifts is a distant dream. Without the resources and economic stability, buying presents can become a major hassle and almost impossible task for parents of children in these countries.
To help with this crisis, Marian’s Faith in Action Team (FIAT) members organized a fundraiser for Operation Christmas Child and encouraged students, faculty and staff to donate. “Operation Christmas Child is a national organization that sends shoeboxes filled with toys to children in war-torn and third-world countries. Children are invited to a session where they can learn about the Gospel. After hearing about the Gospel, they are given the shoebox and a copy of the Greatest Journey, which explains the New Testament to the children,” senior FIAT core member Lauren Klingemann explained.
“It is important that we help the Operation Christmas Child organization because it provides children in developing countries not only with things that they need, but also things they can enjoy. So not only is it giving them a Christmas present, but it also provides them with necessities they might not have access to otherwise,” junior FIAT core member Lauren Philips said.
The week long collection accumulated more than double the amount of boxes collected last year. “Last year, we were able to collect 75 boxes. This year when we counted the boxes, and I found out we had collected 210 boxes, I was ecstatic. I was overjoyed that so many students were inspired to join in and help with this drive,” Klingemann said.
As soon as the boxes were collected, members of FIAT wrapped the boxes with the help of St. Stephen the Martyr girls. “I found them very funny and energetic. They were very interesting and loved helping too,” sophomore Emma Garriott, who helped with the wrapping, said.
Not only does the project contribute to the joy of people across the world, but it also correlates with the core values represented at Marian. “Operation Christmas Child ties in with a lot of the core values here at Marian. I think that may be why the drive was so successful. Compassion and community are two of the core values of the project and of Marian. Realizing that there is need and doing what is in your power to fill it is so important both at Marian and in the world,” Philips said.
Klingemann added that service was also a core value represented in the project. “It is our duty as Christians to evangelize, and helping with Operation Christmas Child is just one way to accomplish that. By packaging boxes, students perform service, which is a core value,” Klingemann said.
In addition to making an impact on children all across the world, Operation Christmas Child has also made an impact on the students here at Marian. “In October, I went to a meeting to learn even more about Operation Christmas Child. At the meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with two people who had gone on a delivery last year. It was so eye-opening to hear their stories and to see pictures of the children that had received the shoeboxes filled with gifts. It was so inspiring to see how much joy a child was filled with after receiving a simple gift,” Klingemann said.
Projects like Operation Christmas Child help to spread the true meaning of Christmas through service and compassion. By donating a simple box filled with small toys and necessities, Marian students were able to make an impact on children all across the globe.