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Upper School students to participate in Operation Christmas Child; shoebox gift recipient to speak in chapel

If one has the chance to dive into Worthington Christian’s five-decade history through its dozens of yearbooks, a theme that quickly emerges across the years and pages is community involvement and service. WC’s faculty, staff, and students share a deeply rooted background of loving others in the school’s broader community context. This love has manifested in a myriad of ways: canned food drives, singing in homes for the elderly, donating artwork to area hospitals and doctor’s offices, providing yardwork for those in need, gifting goods to those affected by a fire in a neighboring apartment complex, volunteering in local food pantries, Senior Capstone trips to the Dominican Republic, and much, much more. This school year, as the holiday season approaches, an annual service initiative from WC’s rich history of loving and serving others is returning to the Upper School campus.  

Many are familiar with Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that collects shoeboxes full of small gifts and delivers them to children in need all over the globe. Started in 1993, Operation Christmas Child has gifted nearly 200,000,000 million. WC’s participation in Operation Christmas Child began not long after the organization began. In the mid-1990s, WC’s elementary and high school students collected shoebox gifts annually to donate to the global project. Beginning this week, students in grades seven through 12 will again join in this special work as a school community.  

Current WC junior Whitney McGlothlin has participated in assembling shoeboxes previously with her youth group at Grace Polaris Church. For three years prior to 2020, she and her fellow youth group members collected and created shoebox gifts and participated in dropping them off at an area collection center. She holds fond memories of her experiences, explaining, “It is special to get to share Christmas and give gifts to others who may not otherwise receive anything.” As a leader in the House of Gratia at the Upper School, she was among the first to find out that WC students in grades seven through 12 will join in the special work of Operation Christmas Child over the next few weeks. She shares, “This is something I’ve hoped we could do at WC, and I am excited that it is happening.”  

Upper School students can participate in this initiative in a variety of ways. First, each house is competing in a coin drive. As an added element of competitive fun, the house with the heaviest bucket of coins and the house with the highest dollar amount will be recognized. Next, all the monies collected will be used to purchase small items to create shoebox gifts. Then, during a special “family time” on Wednesday, November 2, each house will assemble the shoeboxes together.  

Head of School Dr. Mike Hayes also shares a longstanding history of involvement with Operation Christmas Child, dating back 25 years. He has even had the chance to go on a distribution trip to Mexico with the organization. He has experienced first-hand the joy and hope that accompanies each little gift. In his words, “I don’t see boxes; I see faces.”  

Upper School students and their parents, too, will be able to put a face with this project. On November 3, students will host a guest speaker from across the world whose life was forever changed by a shoebox gift, and this will be a special chapel that parents are invited to attend as well.  

Alex Nsengimana is a native of Rwanda in east-central Africa. He lost his caregivers during the height of the tribal unrest and genocide that took place in 1994, eventually ending up in an orphanage. While living there, he received a shoebox gift through Operation Christmas Child. This seemingly small gift sowed seeds of hope and love in Alex’s heart, and he realized that God had a plan for his life. He now works with the organization and will share his story of redemption and forgiveness at WC on November 3. Parents of Upper School students, please make plans to attend this special chapel time to hear Alex’s incredible story.  

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