Around Halloween each year, Trinity third-grade teacher Catha Huff digs out a giant Christmas present outfit out of her closet. But it's not a costume. It's just the time of year when she begins promoting Operation Christmas Child, by dressing as a wrapped red and green Christmas box.
Beginning at the end of October, students at Trinity know it's almost time to stop by Huff's classroom to pick up cardboard boxes to take home. With their families, students volunteer to pack the boxes with essentials like toothbrushes, soap and socks, but also small toys, games and books.
According to the Operation Christmas Child website, the organization is the largest Christmas project of its kind. Since it started in 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 188 million shoebox gifts to children all over the world. The boxes contain toys, school, supplies and hygiene items. They are a tangible way to show God's love to those in some of the poorest countries in the world.
With the help of Thriven Action Team funds, Huff's class, or Huff's Huddle as she calls them, get plastic boxes to fill and send to Operation Christmas Child. Students bring in the items to fill the boxes. This year, they had things like dolls, nail clippers, fidget toys, games, books, crayons, Play-Doh and notepads. Once the students had arranged the items in the boxes, they went to a quite corner in small groups and prayed over the boxes, hoping they make it to their destination and the children receiving the boxes feel blessed by them. They also pray for the Operation Christmas Child program as well as the volunteers that make sure this event occurs each year.
While Huff has been packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child for years, she began including the Huddle in 2017, when she become Trinity's third grade teacher.
"It warms my heart to see their compassion for needy kids around the world. This project goes beyond the walls of Trinity, beyond our neighborhood and gives them a chance to Engage the World as third graders," said Huff.
This year, Huff, along with her husband Jason, delivered more than 160 shoeboxes to be sent to children around the world.