11:07 a.m., Dec. 11, 2009----University of Delaware junior Emily Edmonds has been packing shoeboxes full of gifts for needy children every November since she was in second grade.
This year, she decided to carry on the tradition of Operation Christmas Child, which is sponsored by the Samaritan's Purse international Christian relief organization, with a student organization at UD.
As a result, the Student Council for Exceptional Children, which is organized through the School of Education, held an event last month to pack dozens of shoeboxes for needy children across the world.
The shoeboxes were filled with necessities like socks and toothbrushes, toys, and even candy, then wrapped and sent to children living in poverty in remote or disaster-hit areas of the world. Since 1993, more than 69 million shoebox gifts have been delivered to children in more than 130 countries.
Edmonds, the vice president of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, said she hoped the organization could pack at least 50 shoeboxes during its first year as a participant. Members met Nov. 18 in the Independence residence hall on Laird Campus armed with shoeboxes and wrapping paper, ready to make gifts for children between the ages of five and nine.
Edmonds said the council, with the help of a donation from J.P. Morgan Chase, bought most of the gift supplies out of the Oriental Trading Company catalog. She also asked members to bring photographs of themselves to the event, and the packers placed the photos in the shoeboxes, along with letters to the gift recipients.
“When the children open it, that's their favorite part, just receiving a letter and a picture of the person who gave it to them,” said Edmonds. “It's really sentimental to them, just knowing that someone's thinking of them during the holidays.”
The members will have the opportunity in a few weeks to find out where their shoeboxes were delivered. Edmonds said she is extremely excited about how many council members turned out for the event.
“We're so fortunate, even to be able to go to the University of Delaware, we have so many blessings and this is just one way, for us as college students, to give thanks,” said Edmonds. “We wanted these children to know, in the spirit of the holiday, that they're in our thoughts and prayers.”
Edmonds said the shoeboxes are being shipped to select locations throughout the world. Based on this event's success, Edmonds says she's hoping the council can package an even larger number of shoebox gifts next year.
Article and photos by Cassandra Kramer