Once again, Charleston Southern University surpassed its Operation Christmas Child gift goal. In the 11th year of packing these shoeboxes, the campus exceeded its 12,000-box benchmark with a whopping 13,019.
This is the fourth year in a row where CSU has come out on top as the top college/university packer. Last year, the university collected close to 11,000 boxes, and in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, the campus family packed 7,100 boxes.
The familiar red and green shoeboxes are packed with stuffed animals, toys, soap, toothbrushes, socks, school supplies, and much more. Once the boxes are delivered to the regional processing center in Charlotte for quality control, they are shipped to children ages 2 to 14 on nearly every continent.
Executive Assistant for the VP of Student Life Laurie Diel’s favorite time of year is Operation Christmas Child season. She said, “I get to see firsthand students take the initiative to walk out their faith in action and serve. It is so fun to see students get passionate about packing a shoebox.” Diel serves as the campus coordinator for the OCC project.
Kelly Venning, a senior from Manning, S.C., has packed boxes with her church since she was a little girl. This year, she had a mission to do as much as what she was able to do. Simply by asking friends and family to help her reach her goal, she had individuals, churches, and businesses donate to the cause.
Having been the recipient of charitable giving and assistance when her family went through financial struggles, Venning felt a connection to this ministry. “It brings me a lot of joy to be able to collect money and give back,” she said. Venning was the top student packer at Charleston Southern with 1,306 boxes.
Many employees and students pack individual boxes and bring them to the OCC Collection Day each November. Top staff department packers included: Rivers Library (1,232 boxes), Graduate & Online Enrollment (706 boxes), and Marketing & Communication (215 boxes). Top faculty packers included: Physical Therapy (171 boxes), College of Education (147 boxes), and College of Health Sciences (115 boxes).
Businesses and groups like PetSmart, Charleston Bridge Run, and the South Carolina Stingrays provided stuffed animals, T-shirts, toys, and supplies to help the campus reach their goal of bringing joy and a bit of Christmas spirit to children across the globe. Supplies are also donated by students, employees, alumni, families, churches, and organizations throughout the year leading up to CSU’s annual packing party.
The campus now sets its sights even higher for 2023. Diel says CSU may go for 15,000 boxes next year. “If the Lord calls us to a bigger number, we’ll go for it just as we’ve done the last four years.”
To support CSU’s Operation Christmas Child goal year-round, visit charlestonsouthern.edu/OCC.