DOBSON — Surry Community College’s Lady Knights Softball entire team’s participation in “Operation Christmas Child” is proof athletes can act much differently than the behavior of some professionals recently highlighted in the media. The effort is a first for the team.
Operation Christmas Child is coordinated through the Samaritan’s Purse organization which is a nondenominational evangelical Christian group. According to information from Samaritan’s Purse, the goal of the effort is “providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”
According to Lady Knight Sarah Scott, she saw firsthand the impact of the simple, gift-filled shoe boxes this summer while on a mission trip to the Philippines as she helped deliver the boxes to children.
“The softball team as a whole always looks to do something around the holidays that gives back and will help someone in need. Years past we have participated in food drives and given a child a coat and with the (school’s) Angel Tree,” said Coach Amber Reed. “When I talked to Sarah (Scott) about the team getting involved she gave us two options. To either buy the stuff and she could take it to her church and they have a night where they put them all together or each player could fix a box themselves and give to her.”
The girls chose to each fix one box and some fixed two. Items in the boxes included toys, toiletries, balls, balloons, school supplies, candy, bracelets, pictures, notes and prayer. The group filled 17 shoe boxes. Age groups served by the boxes are children from 2-5-years, 5-8-years and 9-14-years old. Most of the team is not new to projects for others, and have participated in church projects to benefit the needy. This was the first time the team had participate in the shoe box project.
Sydney Caudle said she particularly liked putting toys in the boxes, as well as school supplies and likes the fact the effort allowed them to include personal notes and pictures as well as participants being able to track the boxes on line as they reach their destinations.
Natalie Hauser said the same spirit which they have used on the field to watch out and support each other also proved helpful with Operation Christmas Child as everyone swapped shopping tips so they could purchase items. She said she suggested adding cups as one item because she had found out many recipients valued them to use to carry water.
Several of the athletes said they had been involved in mission trips and had their eyes opened to see how everyday things taken for granted are so valued and that in some countries if you don’t have school supplies, you don’t go to school. Morgan Shiftlett recalled how on mission trips she saw young children take the simple toy balls they were given and stuff them in their shirts so they could go through the line and ask for another one.
The players said they found it humbling to see how the little things were so cherished by children who marveled at their earrings and told them they must be rich to have such items. Tori Clontz said it gave her added confidence what they were doing would have an impact when a Dollar Store employee knew exactly what they would need when they told her it was for Operation Christmas Child.
Courtney Barnes said they also valued the chance to include Bibles in the boxes and some of her teammates underlined passages in the hopes it would “pick people’s spirits up.”
“We were putting it out there (as Christians),” said Barnes. “Bibles are something they can keep forever and parents as well as children benefit from what they receive.” The group said their generation takes for granted getting a specific gift for Christmas and this project made them realize they are selfish.
“It was great to hear the girls talking about what they bought to put in their boxes and the message of hope and word of prayer that each were ask to include. It is a great feeling to do something for others and even better when we can impact the life of a child in positive way through the gospel,” said Reed.
The group said they had found the effort was, at its most basic, a continuing act of kindness to others not so fortunate.
“It’s about the power of a simple gift,” said Scott. “I found out on one mission trip whole families had been praying they would get a shoe box. They know it’s not all about them. This is National Collection Week (for Operation Christmas Child) so it’s not to late to pack more.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.