Shoeboxes help bring in joy this holiday season

by J1 reporter Lauren Shotkoski

The ground is glistening white, and slippery roads are causing problems with traffic; which can only have one explanation.  Winter has begun.

Though some people may think of snow and cold weather when they hear the word winter, the majority jump straight to the holiday season and smile at the snow covering their lawn and trees because they know that despite the frigid air, some of the warmest memories are about to be made.

In a world full of material things it is hard for someone not to be excited about the gifts they could potentially give and receive in the coming months.  Gifts are meant to be shared and are something to be celebrated, but some people do not get to experience the joy of Christmas morning.

Operation Christmas Child is one organization that is working to spread Christmas joy by delivering gifts to children in need this holiday season.

Many Omaha high schools, including Marian, have gotten involved with the campaign. “The point of Operation Christmas Child is to help children in need this holiday season with packing a shoebox filled with toys and toiletries that will hopefully give joy to the kids and teens receiving them,” junior Bella Syslo said. She is a member of the FIAT team at Marian who coordinates the campaign.  “It’s really easy. All you have to do is get an empty shoebox and fill it with some toys for whatever age group you choose and then maybe add in some personal items or even a little note.”

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Marian girls ended up bringing in more than 1,500 boxes, reaching the school goal and earning a free day in December. Bella also noted that even though the Marian drive ended on Nov. 22, churches and other locations around Omaha will be collecting them until the end of the month. “Once they have the boxes, Samaritan’s Purse International Relief will distribute them to the children.”  According to Samaritan’s website, the boxes are given to children around the world affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine and disease, and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S.

Operation Christmas Child is a truly wonderful organization that proves that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference.  If thousands of kids receive gifts for the holiday season that otherwise wouldn’t have, that’s a thousand people who went out of their way to make a difference not only in their own community, but throughout the entire world.  People receive joy from other people rather than things, the gift may be a perk to the child’s holiday, but the fact that someone cared enough to spend time putting a special box together for them is what really puts a smile on their face. Bella concluded the interview with this heartfelt message, “Next year I encourage people to consider putting together a small box to share a big gift.”

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