By Benjamin Cohn
Asheville – For nearly twenty-five years, Asheville’s Reynolds Mountain Christian Academy has spearheaded a ministries’ gift-donation in a program called Operation: Christmas Child. This year, the massive undertaking was initiated on Friday, November 16.
RMCA’s Kim Chandler, pre-school teacher at the school, led the school’s donation effort. During a brief lull in the morning’s chaos, she spoke to the Tribune.
“I am a pre-k teacher for three’s, four’s and five-year-old’s,” she said about her job at the pre-k to 12th grade private Christian school. “We pack boxes for children who are in poverty situations and would not get a Christmas gift. This is the only thing they’ll receive for Christmas.”
She went on to say that Operation: Christmas Child operates all over the globe. “Most of these kids are in such poverty situations that a Dollar Tree dollar toy is the most wonderful thing that they’ll ever get,” she said. Chandler focused on the operation’s positive impacts.
“There’s been, since 2009, over 14.9 million boxes [have] been sent,” according to Chandler. Before getting back to work, she explained the operation’s tiered structure. “We’ll pack today, then we’ll send our boxes to another church, and then another church puts them on a semi and they’ll go to Boone or Charlotte. Then they’ll distribute them and go through each box and they’ll make sure that each box has the designated items.”
Dannah Young, the school’s director of development, also made time to speak to the Tribune.
“I started out as a fifth grade teacher and then taught art, was the business manager for about 11 years and now I’m the director of development,” she began. Young emphasized the school’s role in the overall structure of Operation: Christmas Child. “This is strictly organization-driven,” she said when asked if the event had outside sponsors. “We are actually a drop-off center for a lot of the local churches in the area.
“The churches will collect boxes and then all this week they’ve been bringing their car loads here and dropping them off. We are a drop-off and a collection center.”
Susie Hepler, the school’s administrator for two years, was the last to speak to the Tribune. “It’s [the operation] a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse out of Boone, North Carolina … a rescue/helps ministry to people all over the world,” Hepler said.
She explained that “these boxes will go to children in underprivileged countries, to share the gospel of Jesus and to be a Christmas gift for them.” When asked what items go into an average box (the size of a shoebox), she went further.
“As you can see all around the room, there will be toys, toiletry items, school supplies, things like washcloths, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, things that they can use in their home, and small gifts,” she said.
In just a matter of months, thousands more care packages will be assembled, shipped and distributed to needy families around the world, just in time for Christmas.