WILSON, N.C. – The Christmas Spirit is strong at Barton College. Students, along with faculty, staff, and others across the campus and Wilson communities, came together to gather items and prepare gift boxes just in time for the holidays. The efforts are all a part of Barton’s support for Operation Christmas Child.
Dozens of First-Year Seminar (FYS) students crowded Kennedy Family Theatre before Thanksgiving break. Eleven FYS classes packaged nearly 200 gift boxes full of special items both purchased and collected. Barton’s Office of Admissions, the Student Government Association, and others donated items for each box.
“FYS classes gathered items for boys and girls in three different age groups,” explained Dr. Elizabeth P. Dennis, associate professor of English and director of the FYS Program at Barton. “We assigned each class an age group, and peer leaders offered suggestions for items to collect. The students brought everything to the Theatre, where they stuffed boxes and got them ready to ship out.”
The FYS Program also raised approximately $1,200 to help cover those shipping costs. Once stuffed, the boxes were loaded into a truck and transported to Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, with several international destinations and countless joyful recipients in mind.
One student who made it her personal mission to support Operation Christmas Child is Rachel Riggs. The Barton sophomore organized another gift box event on campus, advancing the non-profit campaign through fundraising and volunteering efforts on and off campus. Riggs and fellow sophomore Alena Grubb partnered with the College’s 9Ten club and King & King law firm in Wilson to raise money for supplies. Barton students, members of the College’s Greek community, men’s basketball team players, and staff all helped pack gift boxes. The Reverend Jamie Eubanks, chaplain of the college, also assisted with efforts, and Wake Forest Christian Church covered shipping costs. In total, the team met its goal of making 50 boxes.
Riggs couldn’t be happier with the response and results of her mission.
“Operation Christmas Child is a longstanding tradition at my church back home,” she said. “Now, Barton is my home, and sharing a tradition that means so much just sounded right. Operation Christmas Child is a remarkable way to bring people from all walks of life together. Some of the volunteers at our event had never heard of it. So, not only were we reaching out to the children who are receiving these gift boxes, but we were also able to reach out to those who were packing them. It is proof that one ministry can make all the difference.”
The gift boxes packed at Barton College contain Christmas presents, toys, hygiene products, clothing, and school supplies for underprivileged children around the world. Students also wrote small personal notes on Barton stationary, placing those messages in each box for the children to read.
Operation Christmas Child is a global initiative that has sent gift boxes to millions of children in need for more than 20 years. The program is operated by Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization, based in Boone, N.C.