Students encouraged to donate to Operation Christmas Child this week

Donated toys go to children around the world who may not receive other holiday gifts


Shoeboxes like this one will be collected and shipped across the world.

Alison Murtagh

A hairbrush, a stuffed animal, shoes, a toothbrush–all are examples of items often taken for granted in today’s society. People don’t think about using them. They are just bought and replaced when needed.

Operation Christmas Child, a project run by Samaritan’s Purse, will be accepting donations this week. The organization works to collect shoeboxes filled with various supplies to distribute to third world countries.

Ruth Peaden, from the Rockbridge Community Church of Nazarene, helps to organize the drive.

“These toys go around the world to children who may not have ever even received a gift,” Peaden said. “It’s to third world countries, or to villages in remote locations. I mean literally they’re carried in on elephant and camel back sometimes, and sometimes they’re going up the river in small canoes.”

Founded in Charlotte, NC, the organization has locations around the world that receive and give out shoeboxes to children in need.

Students at Washington and Lee are able to contribute to the drive in various ways, depending on their time commitment. According to Peaden, the simplest way is to pack a shoebox.

“You basically get a shoebox and you fill it with various items—it could be hygiene items, it could be school supplies, like pencils, notebooks, it could be hair brushes and barrettes, toothbrush—you know those kind of items,” Peaden said.

The organization requests that a $7 donation be included to cover shipping costs.

This is the fifth year Peaden has worked with Operation Christmas Child in Rockbridge County. It is the first year she has reached out to W&L students to get involved. According to Peaden, students are able to coordinate “packing parties,” where groups get together to assemble the boxes to send overseas.

Colin McKinnon, ‘19, volunteered with Operation Christmas Child in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Along with other members of his community, he filled shoeboxes and loaded them onto a truck for distribution.

“It made me feel great because I wasn’t using those stuff anymore, and I was able to send it to someone who actually could use it and it would actually help them out,” McKinnon said.

The drive has positively impacted individuals locally as well.

“There are a couple of what we call ‘full circle stories’, where there are people living in this area […] who have actually received shoe boxes as children and how they’ve now promoted [the organization], either within their school or within their church, and how it did, it changed their lives, and it gave them hope,” Peaden said.

Participants are encouraged to include a letter or a picture with their donation.

“It just gives them hope that somebody else cared enough to send them a gift,” Peaden said.

The last day to donate a shoebox is November 23. After this date, boxes can be virtually packed online and will be shipped to collection sites. For collection times and locations, visit