Operation Christmas Child underway at Abbotsford high school

Students at Rick Hansen Secondary in Abbotsford prepared gift-filled shoe boxes for the Operation Christmas Child program.

Jocelyn Much (second from right) and the students of Rick Hansen secondary's global awareness team led the school in assembling an impressive 126 boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Jocelyn Much (second from right) and the students of Rick Hansen secondary's global awareness team led the school in assembling an impressive 126 boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

In Rick Hansen secondary classrooms, teens were listening to music, chatting and bustling around wrapping Christmas presents, and stacking them.

Hansen’s global awareness team got involved with Operation Christmas Child, and the group led the school in shopping for gifts and putting together 126 gift boxes that will be sent overseas to children in need.

The international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse organizes Operation Christmas Child. The kids packed the shoe boxes with new toys, stuffed animals, socks, candy, school supplies and personal hygiene items, and were asked to include a personal note with the boxes.

Jocelyn Much and Nicky MacFarlane, the teacher sponsors of the global awareness team, said the total this year doubled the 60 boxes Hansen assembled last year.

Much said her 45 team members, who do this work on their own time, are learning what it means to “be the change.” She told them that each box will make a child somewhere in the world happy.

Samaritan’s Purse plans to distribute 75,000 boxes from Canada in Haiti this year. That country has had more than its share of tragedy recently as a January 2010 earthquake killed 230,000 people and left 1.6 million homeless, a hurricane caused flooding, and a cholera epidemic has killed close to 4,000 people.

The deadline has passed for boxes to be picked up at local drop-off points, but people can still contribute online, through the website http://www.samaritanspurse.ca.