Southland’s Class of 2026 making a global impact for Christ
Published 10:08 am Friday, November 18, 2022
Tracy K. Hall
Southland Academy has a rich history of investing in the community. As part of their graduation requirements each senior must have volunteered within our neighborhood a significant number of hours. Although the class of 2026 are a few years away from graduating, they are catching the spirit as well.
On November 17, 2022, the class gathered to package 32 boxes for “Operation Christmas Child.” It was not an event just on Thursday evening though. The class had a mission: to complete 20 boxes. Mary Adelaide Yeiser and Anna Kate Joyner served as leads for the project. The class started early in the planning and bought the perfect items for the “Christmas Child” their gift would be going to. They then covered the cost of shipping for each box. When the class came together to put their 20 boxes together, there had been a little surprise for them. Because of their generosity they would accomplish their 20-box goal. However, as often the case, with a heart of generosity offering what you can, it seems to multiple. The class ended up packing and shipping 32 boxes. Also, inside these boxes? A personal touch from the students. A handwritten letter wishing the child a merry Christmas and a little bit about who they are.
So, what is all this “Operation Christmas Child” stuff? You have likely seen signs of this going on around town. Well, it is not only going on around our town, but also all over the world. The initiative is one of Samaritan’s Purse, a non-profit charitable organization. Franklin Graham is the President and CEO of the organization. Their mission statement sums up their beliefs:
“Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Southland and the Class of 2026 believe in this mission and put feet to their beliefs. The shoeboxes are filled with travel appropriate gifts to reach children around the world every year. In many ways, they are a little like Santa Claus, but like Christ, offering so much more than Santa could ever bring. According to Samaritan’s Purse, this is the process for making “Operation Christmas Child” happen:
From children to seniors, people pack shoebox gifts each year to bless children in need around the world. Parents often use the project to teach their kids about giving. Year-round volunteers support these efforts across the country.
Churches and groups of all sizes collect boxes from their communities. Some churches also serve as drop-off locations for shoeboxes the third week of November every year.
Thousands of volunteers serve annually inspecting and preparing shoeboxes for international shipping. Every hour work stops for a few minutes to pray for the children who will receive the boxes.
- Worldwide Distribution
Long before shoeboxes arrive in more than 100 countries, volunteer National Leadership Teams train pastors and community leaders who want to share the message of the Gospel and bless children. The leaders learn how to host child-friendly outreach events, and how to implement The Greatest Journey follow-up discipleship program.
- Outreach Events
Pastors around the world host outreach events in places where people may not know Christ and invite them to follow Him. Other churches use the boxes as resources for outreach in orphanages and other at-risk areas. In many places, they also offer The Greatest Gift, a Gospel story booklet Samaritan’s Purse developed for shoebox recipients and invite children to participate in The Greatest Journey discipleship program.
To learn more about Samaritan’s Purse, please visit their website at samaritanspurse.org. To learn more about Southland Academy, chartered in 1966 in Americus, please visit their website at southlandacademy.org.