Published Nov 13, 2016
Riverside, Calif. (Nov. 11, 2016)—Christmas charity was on the minds of California Baptist University students, faculty, staff and their families on Nov. 10 as they worked in groups to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (OCC).
“The essence of the event is to bring together the CBU Family to pack boxes for children who live overseas and may not be getting a gift this year,” said Julie Dobbins, director of Compassion and Women’s Ministries at CBU and event organizer.
OCC is a project of Samaritan’s Purse that has delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children affected by war, poverty, natural disasters and other crises. The gift boxes have reached approximately 150 countries and territories since 1993.
More than 1,000 individuals packed the CBU Recreation Center gym to fill more than 800 boxes with items such as hygiene products, clothes, school supplies and toys. Volunteers also had the opportunity to write a special message on a card for the child who receives the box.
“I just love that I have the opportunity to do this… just writing a little note and showing them there is someone out there who loves you makes me really happy,” said Alicia Williams, a nursing junior.
Earlier this year, Dobbins had the opportunity to travel to Guyana to deliver shoeboxes with OCC. She recalled how children would take time to read the personalized letter.
“It’s something that makes [the gift] very special and very personal,” Dobbins said. “It helps them see that there is someone across the world who cares about them.”
The event was a campus-wide effort. For instance, Residence Life provided donations for the shoeboxes, a FOCUS group assembled 500 boxes and the Associated Students of CBU decorated the gym and provided food for the event.
OCC ties into the vision and mission of the university, Dobbins said. Included with each box is a pamphlet, “The Greatest Gift,” that tells the story of Jesus.
“This is an opportunity for a child to hear the Gospel,” Dobbins said. “By giving them a gift, we’re able to meet a small need, and we’re hopefully opening a door to be able to talk to them about the greatest need, which is Christ.”