BCM participates in operation Christmas Child

Tim Laurent, Sports Writer

Francis Marion Univer-sity’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) is collecting items this week to help underprivileged children around the world during the holidays.

Justin Baird, a regular attendee of BCM, is the student responsible for bringing Operation Christmas Child (OCC), an already established operation, to BCM.

“The passion I have for children who do not get to feel the love and joy of Christmas as we do is what made me want to bring Operation Christmas Child to BCM,” Baird said.

This is the sixth year BCM has participated in OCC. To begin the operation, 30 shoebox-sized boxes filled the hallway of the BCM building. At BCM’s weekly Tuesday night meeting, all 30 were picked up by students, and fifty more boxes arrived shortly after.

Signs are posted around the building reminding students to bring toys, school supplies, hygiene items and other suggested items to fill the boxes. Also available to participating students is the opportunity to track their box after it’s sent off, and once it’s received, communicate with the recipient. This is all possible through the Samaritan’s website.

“I feel that through these boxes children are shown that they are loved and not forgotten,” Baird said. “Plus, it opens up the opportunity for these kids to hear the good news of Jesus! It’s also an inexpensive way to impact children all across the world.”

“I’m not sure what to expect. If all eighty boxes are taken and filled that would be awesome!” Baird continued.

Once a student commits to filling up a box, he or she may choose the age and gender of his or her lucky recipient based on which children have not yet been picked.

The operation is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization based out of Boone, N.C. Samaritan’s Purse hosts Operation Christmas Child every year, and each year many churches and organizations around the country participate in putting together millions of boxes to send around the world.

“I hope to see students come to the realization that living in America and other first-world countries is something to be thankful for,” Baird said. “I also want to see a passion begin to grow within other students for these children that live under the effects of war, poverty, and natural disasters.”

Since Samaritan’s Purse took over the operation in 1993, OCC has collected over 89 million boxes that have been distributed to 194 different countries. In 2010 alone, OCC collected 8.1 million boxes, 5.5 million of which came from the United States.

“OCC’s motto, ‘the power of a simple gift’ says it all,” Baird said.