April 20, 2024

[File Photo | The Banner] Students participated in California Baptist University’s annual Operation Christmas Child packing party in 2012 and have continued over the years, blessing the lives of children worldwide every holiday season with a simple shoebox and love.

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived at last. Although no snowflakes or sounds of sleigh bells ride on the wind just yet, the anticipation of Christmas is nothing to be ignored.

At California Baptist University, the Christmas spirit is not only shared among family and friends but also carried around the world through Operation Christmas Child.

The project run through Samaritan’s Purse delivers boxes full of gifts to poverty, disaster and war-stricken children from all around the world.

Each year the boxes are delivered to more than 150 countries and contain school supplies, toys, hygiene projects and clothes.

The effort takes place every year in the Recreation Center. Students will go through a line and place items in each box.

This year, the Operation Christmas Child packing event partnered with CBU’s ROTC program Nov. 10 to give students a chance to write Christmas letters to soldiers overseas. Along with the letters, Polaroid photos were taken to put inside the boxes to make the process even more personal.

After the boxes were finished, students enjoyed Christmas-themed desserts and drinks, as well as time to chat with one another.

Troy Schmidt, senior international relations major, went last year to the packing party and explained his reason for participating in the event.

“I’ve visited a lot of the orphanages, specifically Russia,” Schmidt said. “It’s a huge thing for one of those kids to get a Christmas present, especially from America.”

Schmidt grew up overseas and experienced firsthand what life is like for underprivileged children living in developing countries.

“It’s just devastating the condition they’re in,” he said. “It’s just devastating the condition they’re in. There’s only so much that the people who work in the orphanage can do.”

With each box sent from a CBU student, a child may receive the first Christmas gift of his or her life.

The annual program not only allows God to work in the hearts of CBU students but also in the lives of the children who receive the gifts.

James Bogdanovich, Operation Christmas Child event coordinator, spoke to the testimony of God’s work within the CBU community.

“I have personally spoken to students about how they are going to the store to get items,” Bogdanovich said. “That speaks volumes of Christ at work in young adults at CBU by spending their own money and valuable time to help someone else. (It) shows the fruit here
at CBU.”

Students packed more than 600 boxes last year while this year’s goal was 900.

Last year when Schmidt participated in the packing party, he said it was fun because he went with a group of his friends.

“Making it really personal and adding drawings,” Schmidt said. “It was a fun experience, fun to picture a little kid somewhere opening that up.”

Students had the chance to change someone’s life somewhere around the world. Those who attended the event showed they not only wanted to get in the Christmas spirit early, but also wanted to receive the gift of a possibility to make children around the world smile.

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