November 22, 2011

At the Y, one of our areas of focus is social responsibility which means we mobilize local communities to effect lasting, meaningful change. That is why we partnered with Operation Christmas Child to send off shoeboxes that will go all over the world directly into the hands of children in need.

Operation Christmas Child allows children to experience opening a Christmas present for the first time in their lives. It’s so special, that a child cannot experience it twice.

We kicked off Thanksgiving week by bringing our staff and people from our community together to pack and help us send off our OCC shoeboxes. We collected over 1,600 shoeboxes at the Y as of yesterday, which will make Christmas special for thousands of kids.

 Harpists from St. Luke’s Lutheran Academy played Christmas songs as we gathered together to pray over the children that would receive their Christmas gift.

Dawn Vallantyne, Lake Nona Board Member and Chair of the Mission Committee shared how our Y family has been affected by simply packing one box for a child. One of our members stuck a letter inside a box and still corresponds with the child’s family. Our local community is being strengthened by this simple act of giving.
Tom Welch, Pastor of Southwest Church, led a blessing over the boxes and prayed for the children that would be receiving them.
Afterwards, members and employees jumped in to pack up the boxes.
 Since 1993, OCC has given 85 million shoeboxes to children in 130 countries. The Y of Central Florida is glad to add to those numbers. We are working together to make a difference in our local communities as well as our world. We partner with Operation Christmas Child every year, so if you missed out – join us next year.

 Check out this video to see the reactions of the children getting their OCC box!