Only a shoebox away

by Andrew Goodell

As the holiday season draws near, students involved with Operation Christmas Child are sending gift-filled shoeboxes to children in developing nations.

The shoeboxes, collected from Simpson students, are filled with toys, school supplies, candy, and other small items, according to Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.

Although Operation Christmas Child has been around for just over a decade, this is only the second year that Simpson students have had the opportunity to participate. Lambda Chi Alpha is the coordinating Greek house on campus for the charity this year.

The Simpson College Committee of the charity has a goal of gaining more support in the Des Moines community. Lambda Chi Alpha senior Marcin Wojtczak said the committee sent out letters to several Des Moines businesses to explain the project and ask for the businesses’ support. He said one of the best ways gain awareness s is to engage local businesses in promoting and donating to Operation Christmas Child.

With the help of Des Moines businesses in collecting shoeboxes full of presents, the fraternity as well as Pi Beta Phi and the Soul theme house aim to top the number of boxes collected in 2003.

“Last year we had 150 [boxes],” Wojtczak said. “That’s one in every eight people on campus.”

After Operation Christmas Child earned close to $2,300 in shoebox gifts, Simpson College deemed it the “Event of the Year,” according to Wojtczak.

The committee’s goal to collect 200 shoeboxes in the second half of November is enough to aid one sub-Saharan African village, Wojtczak said.

Along with developing nations in Africa, Operation Christmas Child sends shoeboxes of Christmas presents to children suffering from diseases such as HIV, cancer and tuberculosis in South America and parts of Asia.

As an exclusively international charity, Operation Christmas Child’s shoeboxes are sent to the most impoverished parts of the world.

According to Wojtczak, Simpson students should pay more attention and give more time to international aid than to domestic charity work.

“First you have to take care of the poorest of the world,” Wojtczak said. “There are so many organizations that are already in the U.S. and not enough for developing nations. Operation Christmas Child benefits Third World kids that are not dreaming about a Playstation for Christmas. They are dreaming about anything for Christmas.”

Simpson students who participate in the charity realize they’re giving to someone less fortunate, according to junior and president of Lambda Chi Alpha, Brannon Wright.

Wojtczak added that Operation Christmas Child provides Simpson students with a chance to see how they’re blessed to be living in America.