Campus wide

CSU family shows up again with record-breaking numbers of OCC shoeboxes

By Jan Joslin | November 27, 2023
OCC Packing Party

The CSU Family has packed the most Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes of any college or university in the nation for the fifth year in a row, with a total of 13,601 boxes in 2023.

“Every area of campus participated in packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child,” said Jody Jennings, vice president of student life and dean of students. “It was a joy to see students, staff, and faculty all united in the effort to pack a record-breaking 13,601 boxes. These boxes will be sent around the world and carry with them the message of Jesus Christ. Only eternity will reveal the impact the CSU community has made through our efforts. Charleston Southern University is passionate about integrating faith in serving!”

Charleston Southern has packed OCC boxes for numerous years, but Laurie Diel, executive administrative assistant for the VP of student life and special events manager, challenged the campus in 2019 to do more. Previously, the campus had packed around 2,400 boxes. CSU collected 5,029 boxes in 2019 and has increased the number each year since.

“You don’t have to be a big school to do big things,” said Diel. She said Operation Christmas Child is more than a shoebox. Samaritan’s Purse estimates that each shoebox impacts between 6-10 people with the Gospel. 

This year’s winner of the top student packer award was:

  • Sarah Emily Durham, a junior biomedical lab science major from Sumter, packed 1,513 shoeboxes. 
  • Second place winner Krystal Guntinas was inspired to pack 681 boxes after finding out friends in her native Philippines received boxes from CSU the year before. She is a junior nursing major. 
  • Leandra Watts, a junior English education major from West Columbia, packed 132 boxes for third place.

Durham will be joining 2022 winner, Kelly Venning, and 2021 winner, DJ Brummett, in traveling internationally with Samaritan’s Purse to deliver shoeboxes to children. Venning and Brummett’s trips were delayed by the pandemic.

Staff were divided into teams by senior officer. Employee winning groups were:

  • 1st place:  Team Blackmon averaging 58 boxes per person for a total of 696 shoeboxes.
  • 2nd place:  Team Baggs averaging 50 boxes per person for a total of 350 shoeboxes.
  • 3rd place:  Team Turner averaging 42 boxes per person for a total of 1,440 shoeboxes.

Faculty/College winners were:

  • 1st: place: College of Health Sciences averaging 17 boxes per person for a total of 565 shoeboxes.
  • 2nd place: College of Education averaging 11 boxes per person for a total of 190 shoeboxes
  • 3rd place: College of Nursing averaging three boxes per person for a total of 80 shoeboxes

Top area under Team Wilder was:1st place: Library averaging 52 boxes per person for a total of 417 shoeboxes. 

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