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Awards & Recognition

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: First Place (Daniel Anthony, Opinion Category); Fifth Place (Brendan Jubulis, Sports)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)
Student Keystone Press Awards Honorable Mention (Website)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

    Welcome back, Operation Christmas Child!


    Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is a Villa Maria Academy tradition. This organization is orchestrated by Samaritan’s Purse (a Christian organization). These people hope to spread the Gospel in poor countries. Every year, Villa students work together to bring in items or just a few dollars. These items are then packed in shoeboxes and shipped to less fortunate children in countries as close as Mexico and as far as Africa. These children receive these shoeboxes as Christmas gifts, as the kids are a part of a program called The Greatest Journey (which teaches them about Jesus).

    Operation Christmas Child is cherished by the Villa community. On Nov. 12, boxes were packed and made ready to go. Mrs. Jennifer Tucker runs the program through the Interact Club at Villa. She heard about OCC at her church and decided to bring it to the attention of the club. 

    “When I asked my fellow advisors what they thought about it, they embraced the project, and we all carried it out the following October/November,” Mrs. Tucker said. “It has grown over the years. We packed 50 boxes that first year, and thanks be to God, we just sent out 80 boxes for this year!”

    As OCC has become a Villa tradition, the impact it has had on Mrs. Tucker is significant. She realizes that by packing these boxes, God is working through us to help spread the Gospel. 

    “Jesus said that He was the one and only way to God and that all Christians who believe in Him need to evangelize and tell others about that truth,” she said. “Each shoebox that we pack and send out is our small part in that call because it is going to parts of this world that we might never actually go to ourselves!”

    Mrs. Tucker also explained how important it is for those who have more to give.

    “I think it’s very important that people who are blessed richly feel the call to give and share their blessings richly,” she said. “We can NEVER out-give God, so He will continue to bless us when we use our blessings to bless others and do so with humble and righteous hearts.  We don’t pack these shoeboxes to pat ourselves on the back; we pack these shoeboxes because we love God and want to give back to His people.”

    Villa student Lily Noonan, who is on the Interact Club board, helped orchestrate the event as well. Noonan describes the duties she takes on during OCC and what she contributes.

    “I oversee each individual process that goes into the drive,” she said. “I collected the items students donated during lunches all week. I also helped pick the video that was shown to the school to educate students on what Operation Christmas Child really is, and the impact it makes on the children receiving the packages.”

    Noonan also went on to describe the impact Operation Christmas Child has made on her and the realizations that came with it. 

    “Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful service,” Noonan stated. “Watching the videos of how children’s lives were changed and having my eyes opened to some of the living conditions people endure is humbling. It is so easy just to donate items because it’s required, but actually realizing the changes a little ball or inexpensive toy makes to some kids is life-changing. This realization made me want to encourage people to donate as much as they could, including myself.”

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