Who wouldn’t mind getting out of class for a bit to stuff brightly wrapped shoeboxes with Christmas gifts for needy kids? For the third year students from grades K-12 at Faith Christian in southwest Roanoke County, collected money – more than $1100 – which was then turned into toys and personal hygiene kits. Those items were placed into more than 100 boxes, bound for poor children in places like Haiti.
Socks, candy, toothpaste, soap, coloring books, crayons, small stuffed toys and homemade Christmas cards were piled on several tables, waiting for students from the older grades at FCS to pack them up for shipments that will be distributed by a local church. “Organized chaos,” said marketing and public relations director Susan Childs reflecting on the scene.
Student leaders Anna Willis and Trevor Byrd helped orchestrate the process, which sends out Christmas gifts “to children that have much less than we do,” according to Byrd. “Through this will be able to reach out,” said Byrd, a senior and vice president of the student service organization “Ministerium,” which has held blood drives and volunteered at the Roanoke Rescue Mission in the past.
Byrd manned a microphone during the packing process, advising other students as to what should go in each box. Willis led everyone in prayer before they got started. “Dear Lord … thank you for the opportunity to do this,” she said, with head bowed.
Willis, the president of Ministerium, said the boxes would eventually make their way to North Carolina, then on to Haiti, Africa and really “anywhere . . . I grew up doing this with my church. I personally think it’s so much fun to be able to impact a kid’s life just through a shoebox,” said the junior. “Even the cardboard boxes are a gift,” said Byrd, “something they can keep their stuff in, something that they own. [It’s] a treasure for them.”
Each class from K-12 was assigned an item to purchase for Operation Christmas Child. Development Director Jay Whitman said part of the school’s mission is to “serve others – that’s part of our motto. The students try to do something at least once a month to get out and serve the community, or serve other agencies. I’m really proud of how our students pitch in.”
Project Faith, the spring time community service project that usually takes place at several venues, is the largest undertaking Faith Christian students are involved with and takes months of planning.
Thomas Mann, head of the Upper School at FCS, watched as his students had fun packing the Christmas boxes. Their reward for doing so was a bowl of ice cream – and more importantly the satisfaction of helping the less fortunate.
“Our school [has] a mind for truth, a heart for Christ and a will to serve. This gives our kids an opportunity to be involved in that third part of our mission. It really seems like [Faith students] have a heart for the needy children all over the world.”
Mann wasn’t sure Operation Christmas Child would take place this year, since there were many other irons in the fire at the school. “[Now] it looks like it might actually be a record. It’s a great opportunity for our students to give a little flavor of Christmas to kids all over the world.”