The women of GATA have undertaken Operation Christmas Child for the first time by putting shoeboxes together for children in the Philippines.
Samaritan’s Purse is the international relief association that puts on this program every year around Christmas time. By filling a shoebox with toys, one can provide Christmas gifts to a child in need.
“The gifts provided in these boxes are their entire Christmas,” said GATA chaplain Kelsey Woodbridge.
While this is the first year GATA is participating in Operation Christmas Child, many members said they wouldn’t be surprised if it became a service the club participated in annually.
“We were all so excited for it and really loved getting to do it so hopefully we can keep it going,” said Kaitlin Ballow, junior English education major from Henderson and member of GATA.
Ballow teamed up with three of her club sisters to complete two boxes, one for a boy and one for a girl. She said she enjoyed shopping for the kids and that it brought her closer to her sisters.
“I think it is important that we not lose sight that ‘So long as we love we serve,'” said Ballow, reciting the GATA motto.
“I think we were really wanting to get back to the fact that GATA is a service oriented group,” said Rachel Smith, junior English major from Wiggins, Colo. and GATA member. “We really wanted to focus on that this year, especially around Christmas time because that’s a time that a lot of people need help.”
Woodbridge, junior elementary education major from Austin, seconded Smith’s statement when she said, “Operation Christmas Child was the perfect way to get involved in service throughout the world during the holiday season.”
Woodbridge wanted to encourage the rest of campus to join in and donate a box of toys. If students are unable due to time constraints, they can go to www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/ and click on Build-a-box. From there they can donate $30 and Samaritan’s Purse will make the box for them.
“It’s a great service and I like that we are getting back to our roots as a club,” Smith said. “If the club is just there and it’s not serving something bigger than itself, it’s kind of like ‘why are we here?'”