By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Karina Robinson, a senior at Grand Canyon University, knows what it’s like to have nothing for Christmas.
She recalled that experience Thursday night as she and her friends packed gift boxes on the Quad for Operation Christmas Child, a worldwide project that sends thousands of shoeboxes full of gifts to needy and refugee children.
“When I was a kid, there were times where there were no presents for Christmas and that was OK. I used my Christmas time to give back to others and this, to me, is an opportunity to relive that gift of giving,” Robinson said.
“Some of these children don’t know what it means to be loved, but if I can express my feelings to them and show them that I care, that is precious to me. I hope they can feel it through the box and through the letters – this is love for them to have.”
The event, hosted by the Associated Students of GCU, was also a wrap-up of Golden Initiative Week, a campus-wide opportunity to engage in and promote service into the lives of others.
For senior Mark Van Otten, a student veteran, the event was a special opportunity to engage with his peers and to continue his service.
“I want to end the stigma that veterans face in regard to mental illness,” he said. “This is me expanding our footprints on this campus. We are all about service to the community.”
During Operation Christmas Child, students and staff transformed empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope filled with school supplies, hygiene items, toys and personal Christmas letters, and they did it while dancing and singing along to some of their favorite Christmas songs.
The goal was to complete 450 shoebox gifts toward the goal of reaching 12 million children affected globally by war, disaster and poverty.
Gift boxes included rulers, pencils, a pencil cases, crayons, washcloths, soap, brushes, headbands and notebooks, most of which were purchased by ASGCU.
Other events of Golden Initiative week featured a volunteer fair and a Clean Up the City Rally, at which dozens of students beautified the surrounding neighborhoods.
“This whole week was awesome,” ASGCU President Nate Carpenter said during a break from making gift boxes. “To be able to positively impact the world around us and to work together with our students says a lot about our culture.
"Through the volunteer fair we are able to offer organizations an opportunity to step on campus and keep the doors open for volunteers. At our Clean up the City Rally, we were able to clean up the areas around campus and show that we are part of the community. And with Operation Christmas Child it is just fantastic to be able to see students come out in large numbers to make a difference.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]