Service, Holiday Cheer at Heart of Southeast Student Effort

OCC-girls with giftsCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 25, 2014 – In the spirit of the season, Southeast Missouri State University students put service into action, volunteering to aid Operation Christmas Child (OCC) in Cape Girardeau.

Students in agriculture student organizations, including Soles4Souls On Campus, and members of Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority partnered to fill 250 shoeboxes with gifts to send to children in Mexico.

The students spent the past few weeks on campus collecting items to pack into their own shoeboxes and encouraged others at Southeast to donate. Last week, students helped pack boxes at the Baptist Student Center, which partnered with Soles4Souls on campus for the first time, and served as a collection site.

OCC-students on truck“It brings a lots of satisfaction knowing you’ve done something that will brighten someone’s day,” said Lenice Jensen, a senior agribusiness-animal science major from Ellington, Mo.

This is the second year for Jensen to roll up her sleeves on the project. In addition to being a member of Delta Tau Alpha agriculture honor society, the Agriculture Club, the Farm Bureau and the Horticulture Club, she also participates in Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority.

“It just kind of warms your heart to give back, imagining how exciting some boy or girl will be to open” their box, she said.

The students delivered the shoeboxes collected on campus to the official Operation Christmas Child collection site at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, and last week helped staff the collection center for the nearly 65 hours it was open. Their work included unloading vehicles stuffed with shoeboxes, counting boxes, packing shoeboxes into larger shipping cartons and loading the cartons into a trailer that pulled out on Nov. 24.

The boxes from Southeast Missouri will go to the official Operation Christmas Child Denver Processing Center before heading to Mexico.

The collection this year at St. Andrew Lutheran Church surpassed last year’s efforts.  More than 80 volunteers contributed more than 500 hours, packing 6,130 shoeboxes. Southeast international students from India and Japan also volunteered, according to Cheryl Reinagel, a staff member in Southeast’s Department of Agriculture and coordinator for the relay center.

“We could not have done it without these amazing, generous students.  They have been here around the clock working in all types of weather conditions,” Reinagel said.

Operation Christmas Child is a national organization that collects and wraps shoeboxes or shoebox sized plastic containers stuffed with toys, treats and personal hygiene products. Local collection centers are stationed across the United States where trailers are loaded with shoeboxes people donate. OCC then sends the shoeboxes to children in other countries who would not otherwise receive a Christmas present.