Giving Back

Participation in giving and donating can gift others in the community


Faith Beckmann

A volunteer at Calvary Church on Mid Rivers helps collect shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is an organization mainly run through churches where donators can pack a shoebox filled with goodies to be sent to children in war and poverty-ridden areas around the world.

As the lights of the surrounding street glow through the windows of a small, broken down home in the center of Moscow, a young child anticipates Christmas just like any other child their age would. However, for them this is different. Unlike most children, this child has grown up in an area riddled with poverty, so to them, Christmas usually means spending time with their siblings with little to no gifts. 

However, this year is going to be different. The child has overheard that this year some special people will be coming by to bring them a present. As they sit up in the dark of the night, waiting for dawn, the excitement begins to grow as if it were a flower blossoming in the spring. When the sun begins to rise, and daylight fills the room, the child is ready. They wake up all of their siblings and patiently wait for the strangers to arrive with the gift. Suddenly, a truck pulls onto the street. It stops, and a group of people climb out. Carefully, they begin to unload dozens of red and green shoeboxes. Before they know it, the child is at the side of the truck with their siblings. A friendly middle-aged woman hands them a box and smiles. As the child opens the box, they see simple items one may take for granted: a new toothbrush, a hair brush, some hair clips. But what sticks out to them most is a surprise hidden underneath all of hygienic goodies: a small teddy bear. The child picks up the bear and holds it to their chest, saying how much they love it. As of this moment, Christmas feels a little more special. According to their website, this is the impact of Operation Christmas Child. 

Operation Christmas Child is an organization run by Samaritan’s Purse through churches in which participants pack brightly colored shoeboxes with school supplies, small toys and personal hygiene items to be shipped around the world to children as young as two years old and as old as fourteen. Using a tracker, participants can track where their box ends up, which is usually a third world country. This year, freshman Kaylee Wright recently took part in Operation Christmas Child for the first time through Waypoint Church. She expressed the impact the program has on not only the children who receive the shoeboxes, but the people who donate the shoeboxes as well.

“We are changing the lives of so many kids who have never even received a present before, and they get to wake up Christmas morning to a present,” Wright said. “[This program] makes me more aware of the people around me and dealing with how fortunate we are in the [United States].”

Another organization which allows for donation opportunities is Toys for Tots, a program where people can donate new or packaged toys to collection boxes in grocery stores, toy stores and other retailers. Junior Alyssa Winkler has been donating toys to this organization for the past two years.

“There are lots of people that are less fortunate than you,” Winkler stated. “And you should help them because they don’t have the same resources. They’re going through way harder times than you are and so, I mean, if you were in their shoes once, you [would] want people to help you.”

Sophomore Sammi Reise and her family have been donating to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the past eight years through a fundraiser her mother’s work puts on throughout the holiday season. According to Reise, the money raised goes towards treatment costs and upkeep of the hospital.

“We always get a letter in the mail around the holidays telling what they’re doing with our money and kind of who it helps,” Reise said. “It [is] kind of just like, ‘Oh, well, this is what we use your money for.’ and so it kind of just varies [and] you kind of get to see certain stories from little kids and it’s just nice to hear what they’re doing with it.”

Reise also believes students should try to donate, no matter the amount they are able to give, even the smallest amount of donations will always make an impact.

“I think that every little dollar helps, you know. So it kind of like, just makes things easier on those families and it helps continue their child’s treatment,” Reise stated. “And when you see stories about kids with cancer they’re always very grateful about how, especially if they go to a place like St. Judes, they were impacted by the donations of people who are bringing in money to help their child survive. Donate if you can.”