Christmas in a shoebox

By Jennifer Drow, special to the Florida Catholic Newspaper – December 2017

Socks for Christmas? Absolutely! Call it holiday mission success at Holy Family Catholic School in Orlando. Students in grades 3 through 5 recently collected and shipped clothes, toys, and school supplies to needy children across the globe through Operation Christmas Child. “For many of my students, the idea that there are children around the world who do not know God was astounding,” said teacher Mackenzie Snook. “Reading about past recipients who shared a washcloth and toothbrush with twenty other orphans was our call to action.”

Each special shoebox was also packed full of hope. Fifth-grader Tommy explained, “Collecting items and packing the boxes really helped me visualize how much these children needed these things.” The students took time to include heartfelt letters. They also prayed over the gifts to make sure God was part of the journey. Classmate Gracelyn shared, “I hope the children who receive these boxes will know there are people in the world who care and also know that Christ is with and in them always.”

The local YMCA helped the Holy Family students get the boxes to Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1993, the program has helped more than 146 million children in 100 countries. “Operation Christmas Child changed the way I view the world because it shows me how much more Christ-like I can be,” said fifth-grader Luke. Peer, Lanie, agrees, “When the kids get these boxes they will realize that God is looking out for them.”

Principal Sister Dorothy Sayers, M.P.F could not be more proud. “It is our goal and our school mission to help guide our students in a vision beyond themselves,” says Sayers. “We want our children to reach out to others who are destitute and desperate. To offer hope through God’s work, not only at Christmas time, but all year long.”