Friday, November 28, 2014

Windham Christian Academy helps internationally through Operation Christmas Child - By Michelle Libby

Windham Christian Academy is reaching out this season to spread cheer to children in need in third world countries through Operation Christmas Child, a program run by Samaritan’s Purse an international relief organization. 
“It’s a collection of clothes and different hygiene things kids might want or need,” said 14-year-old Katie Willard. 

“It all starts when people decide to bless a child overseas through Operation Christmas Child. Individuals and families decide whether they will pack a shoebox for a boy or a girl and then look for gifts appropriate for a specific age range. Prayerful shoppers search for items to delight a child: A toy car or a jump rope, a slinky or a doll. They look for practical things like pencils and paper, and necessary items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste,” according to the website. 

Under the direction of teacher Jackie Sands and her advisory group of freshmen, the entire school donated items to go in the 16 shoeboxes that were delivered to a church in Naples and then sent to other countries. 
“Sixteen boxes…16 kids are going to get a Christmas present thanks to you guys,” Sands told her class. The students that worked on the project are Katrina Terry, Tyler Homer, Jordyn Merrill, Willard, Amanda Huang, Allison McAllister and Heather Frost. 

The class was brainstorming ideas for a project they could participate in. A few of them had worked on Operation Christmas Child before through various churches. They decided this was what they wanted to do. 

Each grade was asked to bring in something for the shoe boxes. 

The third and fourth graders brought in games. “They seemed pretty into it. They were proud of what they brought in,” said Willard. The youngest students were asked to bring in personal care items. One of the parents is a dentist and sent in toothbrushes, so each box has at least one toothbrush, if not four, the students said. One grade was asked to bring in coloring utensils and the sixth grade class was asked to bring in toys and the middle school students brought in socks, hats and mittens.  

The boxes were divided up by boy or girl and then by ages from two to 14. 

“It’s really a neat program,” said Sands.

In addition to the items, the boxes cost $7 each to ship. The freshmen raised the money though fundraisers like a Zumbathon and bake sales. 

The boxes are tracked and the class can see where and when their boxes reach their destination, be it in Africa, Central America or the Dominican Republic. 

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