Giving back at Christmas: FBLA’s Operation Christmas Child project


Most kids get tons of Christmas presents every Christmas, but other kids are less fortunate. This is especially the case for many kids overseas who live in extreme poverty in third-world countries. Samaritan’s Purse tries to combat this problem every year. People all over the world participate in packaging “shoeboxes” as a gift that is donated to the villages and communities. The idea is for children to have things in the box that they can enjoy forever. Our FBLA club helps with this project as well as the FCA.

FBLA has been packaging shoeboxes for 4 years and this year in November they joined FCA in their annual packing party. This year they packed 380 shoeboxes in under 2 hours. The shoeboxes are sorted and organized based on the child’s age and gender. The goal when filling the shoeboxes with items is for each box to get necessity items (toothbrush, comb, bar soap, washcloth, cup, etc), school supplies (paper, something to write with/color, ruler, scissors, etc), and then one or two “WOW” items (barbie, hot wheels, puzzles, marbles, baby doll, jump rope, slinky, etc.). Madison Samples, who is a 10th grader here at MCHS, said that her favorite things to put in the boxes are “WOW” items. Madison said, “I think the best things I put into a box is a ‘wow item.’ This changes depending on age group and gender. For 2-4 year-olds, I normally think the best item is a stuffed animal. For 5-9 year-old boys, I think the best item is toy cars/trucks. For 5-9 year-old girls, I think the best item is Barbies. For 10-14 year-olds, I think the best item is coloring books and colored pencils.”

Ms. Nations is one of FBLA’s sponsors that has participated in Operation Christmas Child for years:  about 20 years to be exact! She started packing the shoeboxes when she was in high school, and then 10 years ago, she started it with her family. One reason she started this project with her family was to teach her children from a young age to help others and give back. She also believes this for every other kid, not just her own. Ms. Nation’s favorite thing is to collect and preparing the items for the OCC project. Her and her family participate is many packing parties, volunteer at drop off locations where they cartoons of shoe boxes into transfer trucks, and they volunteer at the processing center in Atlanta. Getting to experience the Operation Shoebox with her students and loved ones is something that she looks forward to all year and means a lot to her. When I asked how she felt the children receiving the boxes and the students preparing the boxes benefits them, she said “I had the opportunity to meet someone that is ‘full circle’ this past Wednesday when I volunteered at the OCC Processing in Atlanta.  When someone is ‘Full Circle’ it means that they received a shoebox when they were younger and now they are a volunteer/staff of Samaritan’s Purse.  Hearing her talk about her experience of receiving an OCC Shoeboxes was very special.  She remembered all the items that were in the box and told us how much they meant to her.  She talked about the toothbrush being so special because it meant she didn’t have to share with her family members as this is something that is very common in low income homes around the world. Something that we take for granted is of high value to others.  She also talked about how fun it was when she and her brother figured out that the slinky could move down the steps and how fun it was.  I know that these shoeboxes mean a great deal to the children but also their families.”

I got a chance to also talk to some students — Madison Samples, Carter Hendricks, and KrisAnna Kinsey — that have participated in packing shoe boxes. Here is what they had to say: 

How do you feel when you package the shoeboxes? 

Madison Samples: It makes me happy to package show boxes because I feel like I am giving someone something they may have never gotten if it wasn’t for my gift. I love knowing that a kid somewhere is able to have a Christmas present to open because I know they may not get many other things.

Carter Hendricks: I love packing shoeboxes, and it makes me happy to know they’re for a good cause and they help hundreds of thousands of kids a year. 

KrisAnna Kinsey: When I pack the shoeboxes it makes me happy because I know a kid that may not get anything for Christmas will have something.

What made you decide to participate in Operation Christmas Child? 

Madison Samples: I started participating in packing shoe boxes in 7th grade because it was the service project for FCCLA. After middle school I continued to package boxes even though I wasn’t doing it with fccla because it made me feel like I was helping someone in need, and I love helping people in any way I can. The feeling was even better because I knew I was giving a child a gift that they may have never gotten otherwise.

Carter Hendricks: I started packing due to my mother becoming a big patron to the shoeboxes and then she got me in on it. Over time, I learned to appreciate it a lot more.

KrisAnna Kinsey: I am really involved in FBLA and love to help others any way I can.

What is your favorite thing about packaging the shoeboxes? 

Carter Hendricks: My favorite thing about the process is either working with other people on the boxes, or teaching other people how to pack them.

How did it feel to have your family package the shoe boxes with you?

KrisAnna Kinsey: Looking around and seeing all the happy faces and hands including my little brother and parents was the best feeling in the world.

After speaking with these students and Mrs. Nations, it is obvious what great contributions FBLA is making to the world.  If you would like to get involved for upcoming projects, just reach out!