Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse whose goal it is to “demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world.” They do this by delivering shoebox gifts filled with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items, along with the gospel message. Through packing a shoebox this year, Truett McConnell University (TMU) students can each participate in a worldwide evangelism opportunity.

A new goal

Last year, Natalie Griffin, a Christian Studies major, felt led by God to coordinate OCC on the campus of Truett McConnell University. She partnered with the World Missions Center to help promote this evangelism opportunity to students, and as a result, TMU collected 512 shoeboxes for children all around the world.

“I realized that TMU’s campus is full of people with a heart for missions,” said Griffin. “In the hectic lives of college students, not everyone can afford to go on an overseas mission trip and some just may not be called to that. This is a simple way that every single student can be involved in sharing the Gospel of Christ with children on a global scale.”

This year, Truett McConnell is aiming to collectively pack 600 shoeboxes.

How to participate

Students can participate in OCC by picking up an empty shoebox in the Student Wellness Center after chapel on November 2, 2021, or by acquiring one at the World Missions Center at any time. Packed boxes must be returned to the World Missions Center by November 9, 2021.

Students can choose to pack a box for either a boy or girl from ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.

Places to shop

Many stores near TMU’s campus offer a great selection of items to include in a shoebox while staying on a college student budget. Griffin recommends shopping at Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Deb’s Dollar & Discount, Walmart, and Target’s Dollar Spot.

Griffin said, “Sometimes people hesitate to participate because of the money. But you can pack a shoebox for the equivalent of one meal from Chick-fil-A, or two drinks from the local Farmhouse Coffee.”

The OCC coordinator also recommends buying in bulk with friends to save money. Items such as toothbrushes, washcloths, bars of soap, and toy cars can be bought in bulk and divided amongst several boxes.

OCC box example.

A good shoebox contains 6-10 items, including a “wow” item such as a plush toy, doll, soccer ball, or item of clothing. Other items may include a hairbrush and hair ties, crayons, puzzles, small travel games, and more! Visit the Samaritan’s Purse website for the full list of suggested items for each age category as well as a list of items that should not be included.

Fun ideas for friend groups

Griffin encourages students to add a personal note to the box they pack and even a picture of themselves. Additionally, she recommends that students create a fun night with their friends to shop for and pack the shoeboxes.

Griffin said, “Make some hot chocolate or apple cider, and then pray over the boxes and the children that will receive them. It will be a sweet time with your friends, and you will get to serve Christ in a fun way.”

Shipping fundraiser  

This year, TMU is fundraising to cover the shipping cost for the shoeboxes. For every ten dollars that a student donates, his or her name will be placed in a drawing to win a new Apple iPad and Apple Pencil.

Truett McConnell students can stop by the Student Development Office to enter the drawing by cash or check, or they can donate with a credit or debit card at the Business Office.


Anna Skudarnova is a senior English major and content writer for the TMU Marketing and Communications Department.

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