OCC: Library’s labor of love
For two consecutive years, the Rivers Library team has shown up and out in a friendly Operation Christmas Child competition among faculty and staff departments on campus. Team members credit library ladies Christine Petty and Marla Bunn for leading the way to reaching 34 boxes per person in 2020 and a grand total of 1,045 shoeboxes in 2021 (that’s 116 boxes per person).
How did this small team pack so many boxes? “Each month we try to focus on getting certain items,” Petty said. For example, the team buys school supplies in July and August when they are on sale.
Some items are not the typical wow toy, but rather something more unique and useful like sewing kits from a dollar store or homemade fishing kits (old prescription bottles with no labels, fishing line, weights, cork, and nail clippers to snip the line). Older children can use items like the kits, a hammer, a screwdriver, or a laundry line and pins to do jobs and make money.
Bunn and Petty have a combined 28 years of box packing experience under their belts. Bunn shared the memory of her very first shoebox. “We watched an OCC video where the children received their boxes. The excitement was contagious, plus the opportunity for the children to learn about Jesus Christ was a game changer for me.”
Her most recent shoebox packed was “just as special” as the first—filled with items for an older boy thousands of miles away.
Both credit the ministry as life-changing, for the recipients and the givers.
“I think I have become a more giving person,” Petty said. “It’s so exciting seeing videos of children from all over the world opening their boxes with smiles on their faces. It feels good to be a small part of that.”
When Bunn goes shopping and fills her cart with school supplies or large amounts of toys and hygiene items, she uses it as a ministry opportunity. “In the checkout lines, I tell people about Operation Christmas Child. Some have never heard about it,” she shared. Many times, she is thanked and inspires others to do the same. “I think that we are ambassadors for HIM! My small part of OCC helps to accomplish the goal—to help spread the word of Jesus.”
Petty agreed that shoebox prep is contagious. “When family members and friends see how excited I am about packing the boxes each year, they want to help. They are often encouraged to do their own boxes or donate in some way to help the children as well.”
The legacy continues on. Petty’s son, Noah, started out packing two boxes with his mom at age two. It became a family tradition. Noah is now a student at CSU and started doing his own shoeboxes toward CSU’s big goal.