Presque Isle HS students fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

16 years ago
  PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Children in Third World countries will receive Christmas presents this year thanks to students at Presque Isle High School.
Erin Thomas, a PIHS senior, has been participating in Operation Christmas Child since she was little, and thought it would be a good service project for the Student Council to support.

    “My parents got a flyer in the mail about it this year, and I thought it would be good for the school to do,” said Thomas, “and since I’m on Student Council, I brought it up and Mr. [Eric] Waddell approved it. I pretty much headed it up.”
A program of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief and evangelism organization led by Franklin Graham, Operation Christmas Child started in 1993. Shoeboxes are filled with school supplies, toys, and personal items that help introduce children to Jesus Christ.
“We collected a total of 46 boxes,” said Thomas. “They are for both boys and girls ages 2-14 that will be distributed to children in Third World continents like in Africa and South America.”
Thomas said she was hoping to receive 20 boxes, but ended up with a lot more.
“We received 22 boxes on the last day,” she said. “I’m really happy.”
While some people had their own shoeboxes to fill, Payless Shoe donated the majority of boxes. Shoeboxes were filled with everything from school supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, stuffed animals, small toys and candy. Thomas wrapped any box that wasn’t previously wrapped with colorful Christmas paper.
“Any kid in the school who wanted to, could participate,” she said. “They weren’t just Student Council members. Some people from my church filled a box, and a few teachers have done it, too.
“I’m happy with my classmates,” said Thomas. “I think maybe if the Student Council does this next year, it might become a tradition. I’d like to see that happen because it’s such a worthwhile cause.”
Thomas dropped off the 46 boxes Nov. 16 at the Presque Isle Wesleyan Church, which shipped them to Samaritan’s Purse. People who filled a box were also asked to include $7 to help cover shipping expenses.
“For kids who receive these boxes, it’s really the only thing they have,” she said. “They don’t really have Christmas, so this is something nice to give them to open up on Christmas Day. Just knowing that I’ll touch the lives of some kids this Christmas means a lot to me.”
Thomas said she will likely fill a shoebox on her own next year, but may even organize a collection drive at college.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, log on to www.samaritanspurse.org.