Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Returning the Blessing

Returning the Blessing
Students at a college in Missouri who received shoe boxes as children work to pack boxes for others
The students at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, know what it means to have someone give you the kind of gift that changes your life.

All the students work jobs along with taking full course loads to graduate debt-free—an opportunity no one takes for granted.

Giving back to the community only seems natural, and one of the highlights of the year is participating in Operation Christmas Child. Last year, a trailer was parked outside the campus chapel during National Collection Week in November, and students worked diligently to fill it with shoe box gifts for children all over the world.

“It’s a good opportunity for all of us to involve ourselves in helping others,” sociology major Daniel Tirle said.

Tirle experienced firsthand the good Operation Christmas Child can do when he was a boy growing up in Romania. While in second grade, amid hard times for his family, he received a shoe box.

“Operation Christmas Child is very important because it not only brings joy in the lives of many people, but it also brings the Gospel to many families and to the lives of many children,” he said.

Tirle is not the only College of the Ozarks student who received a shoe box as a child. Keren Banegas from Honduras and Lyrona Rexhepi from Kosovo also experienced God’s love through Operation Christmas Child.

“I remember the feeling when I got it,” Banegas said. “It was so unique.”

To Banegas, the best part of Operation Christmas Child is providing the opportunity for children to come to know Jesus as their Savior.

For Rexhepi, it was her shoe box that led her to Christ. “The Greatest Gift of All,” the colorful booklet offered with the gifts, helped introduce her to the love and grace of Jesus. Now a young adult and international business major, her life has changed drastically since the war-torn days in Kosovo when she first opened her box.

“It really means a lot to kids because a small shoe box can make big differences in their lives and change their lives forever,” she said.

You don’t need to attend College of the Ozarks to pack or collect boxes. Click here to learn more about the mission of Operation Christmas Child, to order materials, and for more information on how you can get involved in changing the lives of children all over the world.

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