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C of O Students Start Christmas Shopping in August

School is back in session, which means back-to-school shopping is the main theme at many local retailers. However, many College of the Ozarks students are taking advantage of the back to school bargains for a holiday that’s still four months away. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

Students at College of the Ozarks are making people who do their Christmas shopping in October look like last-minute shoppers. That’s because several students are stuffing shoe boxes full of things like crayons, toys and soap to aid a program called Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project and aids over eight million children in more than 100 countries each year.

Also included in the shoe boxes are necessity items, candy, and notes of encouragement. The project does not accept G.I. Joes.“The things that they do ask for us not to include are any war related items; guns, knives, military figures even.”

Linda LeNeve is the executive assistant to campus ministry at College of the Ozarks.

She says over 500 students at C of O fill shoeboxes like this each year. LeNeve also said that some students were able to see the shoeboxes actually being delivered in Africa.

“They saw firsthand children getting these shoeboxes and they just went wild.”

College of the Ozarks is a relay station for the shoeboxes in southern Missouri.

Elle Unruh is a senior at College of the Ozarks majoring in art. She has been involved in Operation Christmas Child for all four years in college.

“I think it’s a really great way to get the students and involved and be like, ‘hey if you have some extra pocket change to go ahead and use that to buy toys for kids who really have nothing.’”

Unruh thinks it’s a great time to start buying things for Operation Christmas Child because of all the back-to-school sales, but she admits she did some shopping even before these sales hit.

“Over the summer we went out and got a lot of stuffed animals and just small toys to start our collection.”

Anyone can participate in Operation Christmas Child. For more information, you can go to www.samaritanspurse.org.

The shoeboxes will be collected nationwide from November 16th through the 22nd.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.