November 16, 2020 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Continuing with a holiday tradition that has lasted on Liberty University’s campus for over two decades, students packed nearly 500 shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and personalized messages for children around the world as part of Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse.
In contrast to previous years when residence halls and community groups would shop, assemble, and pack the shoeboxes themselves, this year’s system assigned each area of campus an item category to shop for and deliver to a station in the Montview Student Union, where volunteers from Liberty’s Operation Christmas Child club packed the boxes.
“Liberty is a very missional place; we have things like Global Focus Week, LU Send, and LU Serve, and this is just another special way that Liberty students can be missional with their time,” club president Seth Welch said. “We as college students, particularly here at Liberty, want to do things that are bigger than ourselves. That’s really what the Gospel is, being a part of something bigger and making disciples across all nations, and with Operation Christmas Child Liberty students are able to do that.”
Welch added that this year’s boxes will be sent to areas of the world that have been harder for Samaritan’s Purse to reach in previous years.
Samaritan’s Purse and its president, Franklin Graham, have a longstanding relationship with Liberty University, with Graham a consistent visitor to campus for Convocation and other events. He most recently spoke at the Sept. 16 Convocation. Since the start of Operation Christmas Child in 1993, over 100 million shoeboxes have been collected, and Liberty students have contributed to the cause on some scale every year.
Liberty junior Blakely Logsdon, a club member, has seen the joy and impact that these boxes bring as a year-round Operation Christmas Child volunteer since the age of 14. In 2017, Logsdon joined a weeklong volunteer trip to Madagascar with other students from the United States, handing out roughly 2,000 boxes. Logsdon and her family have packed shoeboxes since she was 5 years old, and she said physically seeing the results of the work she and every other person who has packed a shoebox have done was overwhelming.
“There’s nothing like standing in the middle of handing out the boxes and realizing that you had a hand in this amount of joy over the past however many years, and there were several times that I almost fell to my knees and cried because of how heavy the presence of God was out there,” Logsdon said. “(Operation Christmas Child) is a tangible opportunity for (anyone) to spread the Gospel without having to be out in Madagascar or anywhere else.”