Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 27, 2000
Children reach out to Children
Schools send Christmas gifts to Third World, war-torn countries
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
In a small shoebox, Sean Cunningham placed some metal die cast cars and a red Clifford dog, one of the Beanie Babies from his toy chest.
The soft-spoken nine-year-old smiles when his principal Marie Whalen at St. Mary Elementary School compliments him for giving up one of his own toys.
"It's nice to see that he gave up something of his own. It means a lot. He gave a part of himself."
The shoebox Sean filled was one of more than 400 from St. Mary and St. Monica schools that will go to children in Third World and war-torn countries including Kosovo, Bosnia and those in Africa.
The program is part of Operation Christmas Child, an international project sponsored by Samaritan's Purse. Participants of the program fill small shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, toiletry items, candy, T-shirts or other small items that might be suitable for a child five to 14 years of age.
Last year the program collected more then three million shoeboxes worldwide.
In his box, Steven Hackaman, 11, put soap, shampoo, a book and a bag of licorice Nibs. He admits he wouldn't be impressed if he found a box like that under his Christmas tree, but children in impoverished countries would be delighted at such a gift.
"They don't have very much," he said. "I can have candy anytime I want, it's not that easy for them."
Referring to a video they saw from the program's coordinators, Thomas Sikora, 11, said, "(The children) really get excited when they open the boxes. They're really happy."
Filling a shoebox is more than just putting together a Christmas gift for a needy child, said Whalen.
"Our children are putting other children first. . . . They've always been very generous."
The school was inspired to join the program five years ago by a book Works of Love are Works of Peace based on the life of Mother Teresa.
"I think we have to look beyond ourselves. We do a lot of work within our city but it's also important to look outside. It's important for kids to look beyond their communities."
Thomas added, "It teaches us to share with others. We don't know them - but it's important to help others because they don't have as much as we do."