William Woods University Greek students demonstrated the true spirit of the holidays by looking beyond their own Christmas wishes and giving to those in need.
Participating in Operation Christmas Child (OCC), Greek students at WWU filled 125 shoeboxes full of toys, presents and school supplies to be shipped across the globe to children in need. All six WWU fraternities and sororities—Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Gamma Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega and Delta Gamma—participated.
Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed, shipped, and delivered across the globe through Operation Christmas Child, a branch of the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.
WWU got involved in the program because of two senior students who wanted to make a difference. Bradley Prasuhn of Farmington, Mo., and Jacyln Reehoff of Barrington, Ill., proposed the idea to the Greek community after hearing that the First Baptist Church in Fulton was doing it.
“I decided to get involved after seeing the video at church one Sunday, and I thought that it would be a great opportunity for the Greeks at WWU to do something of this magnitude,” Prasuhn said. “To know that we have helped children that would not normally get a Christmas present is a good feeling.”
Reehoff added, “I’ve worked with orphans in Slovakia before and got really involved with it. I really feel like a lot of people take so much for granted today and forget how much they really have. These kids are only getting that box for Christmas. Because of that, I think it’s important to try and get as many boxes as we can.”
Courtney Yantes, graduate assistant for Greek life and student involvement on the WWU campus, sees OCC as a great opportunity for students.
“This was something that was so simple and something that got students thinking beyond themselves and campus. It required little effort, but has huge dividends,” she said. “When you look at the promotional materials you can see how grateful these children are. They talk about how receiving these boxes changed them. This program really helped open students’ eyes to the world around them.”
Reehoff believes that OCC had a two-fold benefit—helping the children and helping the participants.
“I know the women in my sorority definitely benefited from it,” she said. “They had a lot of fun doing it, but they realized that it was for a good cause and they were glad to help out. It’s also good for others on campus to realize that a lot of people are less fortunate than us.”
“For me the true spirit of Christmas for me is unselfish giving,” Prasuhn said. “Not knowing who is getting the presents that we packaged, or where they will end up did not stop us. Hopefully, we have impacted a young child’s life, and when they get older they will return the favor to another less fortunate child.”
He added, “I would just encourage people to think about someone else in the holiday spirit. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved.”
William Woods University students Bradley Prasuhn and Jacyln Reehoff show off some of the 125 shoeboxes full of toys, presents and school supplies to be shipped across the globe to children in need.