Mrs Naomi Kotzur with her year three class and the boxes they pack up for Operation Christmas Child in their lunch breaks.
Mrs Naomi Kotzur with her year three class and the boxes they pack up for Operation Christmas Child in their lunch breaks.

Shoebox elves making a difference this Christmas

ST JOHN’S Year 3 teacher Naomi Kotzur has been working hard with her students to pack up and send over 380 boxes of gifts, with the hope of making Christmas Day just that little bit more special for kids who otherwise wouldn’t receive anything.

The boxes will go first to the Samaritan’s Purse warehouse in Brisbane, and from there they will be organised into containers to be sent to the Philippines.

St Johns Year 3 class and the boxes they pack up for Operation Christmas Child in their lunch breaks.
St Johns Year 3 class and the boxes they pack up for Operation Christmas Child in their lunch breaks.

Ms Kotzur said she has been involved with running this project at St Johns for many years now.

“Operation Christmas Child is a program we run through Samaritan’s Purse,” she said.

“The organisation sends shoe boxes filled with gifts to children in countries overseas.

“The gifts are sent and delivered through the local churches overseas.

“They really are just a way of bringing hope to these childrens lives.”

Ms Kotzur said the children who receive the shoe boxes only ever receive one in their lifetime.

“Even though through the program we return to the same country year after year it’s always going to different children,” she said.

“This makes it quite significant.”

The students at St Johns have been heavily involved in this program and making a difference in these children’s lives.

“The students at St Johns have the opportunity to pack a shoebox as a family,” Ms Kotzur said.

“Then they can bring that along here to school.

“There are suggestions for what to do and what to pack.”

Students from St Johns year three class packing boxes in their lunch break for Operation Christmas Child.
Students from St Johns year three class packing boxes in their lunch break for Operation Christmas Child.

The suggestion is for families to pack items from six different categories.

“They are only suggestions but the categories are practical and could help with school or play,” Ms Kotzur said.

“Some families have also just been sending in loose items to then be packed into boxes.

“Because I co-ordinate the program from the school, the children in my class have been my little shoebox elves at lunch times and after school.

“They themselves choose to come in and give up their free time to help out and pack the shoe boxes for kids who are worse off then them.”

Ms Kotzur said was proud of the students and their families.

“Each shoebox we pack is going to a child who has very little,” she said.

“That’s a child who would usually go without a Christmas present having something to open.

“It really has an impact on their lives, and it’s amazing our students get to be involved in that.”

Through the project, Ms Kotzur is hoping to teach the students to look beyond themselves.

“We’re hoping to teach them to think about how fortunate they are and to be grateful for everything they have,” she said.

“Also to teach them to have a wider perspective of life and our world.

“We want them to know it’s a privilege to be educated. Because a lot of children don’t even have that opportunity.”