By Lori BODNAR, intern
Charlotte Acosta, an eighth grader at Holy Redeemer-St. James School, recently completed a service project with Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritan’s Purse organization. The purpose of Operation Christmas Child is to bring boxes filled with gifts to children all over the world, while spreading the word of Jesus.
“After sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said ‘Go and do likewise.’ That is the mission of Samaritan’s Purse – to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel,” said Julie Acosta, Charlotte’s mom. Operation Christmas Child runs yearly. National collection week was the week of Nov. 16-22.
Charlotte started her service project the first week of November. She made a video explaining the goals of the organization and how to pack a shoebox with donation items. She asked the middle school grades at St. James to participate (grades five through eight). She had a drive-thru collection day at St. James School on Nov. 10 when she collected the filled boxes. She collected 35 boxes from the students at St. James and dropped the shoeboxes off at the drop-off location at Community Life Church in La Crescenta. Charlotte worked about 16 hours on her service project, which included creating the video presentation for the students, purchasing the supplies and packing four shoeboxes herself, conducting the donation drive-thru at school, and delivering the boxes to Community Life Church.
The shoeboxes were filled with needed items. Some were everyday essentials such as cups, bowls, soap, toothbrushes, school supplies (pencils and notebooks), clothing and a toy.
“All of the items have to fit inside the shoebox,” said Julie. “We packed ours pretty tightly. It helps to take everything out of its original packaging. No food, no liquids, and no inflammables can be included since the shoeboxes are shipped all over the world.”
Charlotte said she was inspired by her mom’s previous volunteer work with Operation Christmas Child.
“I had participated in my own donation drive for Christmas Child when Charlotte was younger and, since she is required to work service hours for school, we thought it would be a good organization for her to work with because the charity pertains to children,” said Julie.
Charlotte also participated with Operation Christmas Child last year by encouraging friends and family to donate shoeboxes filled with items.
Charlotte’s heart for helping has led her to other volunteer service opportunities. She made cat blankets for the Pasadena Humane Society and participated in a community clean-up day at Descanso Gardens, spending the day picking up trash and cleaning benches.
“One of the reasons why we love Holy Redeemer-St. James School is because it is teaching our children to be of service and help others,” said Julie. “When you forget yourself and think of others it teaches you that the world is much bigger than yourself and that we all need to serve and help others. The middle school students are required to complete service hours each year and, by doing so, it teaches them to give back to their communities and it helps them understand the value of volunteerism.”