Christmas Child has no place in residence


As a Change Project for their Commerce 351 Leadership class, a group of students decided to pitch the idea that dons and students in residences participate in Operation Christmas Child, a worldwide project run by Samaritan’s Purse, a self-described “nondenominational evangelical Christian organization.”

Participation in Operation Christmas Child involves filling shoeboxes with gifts such as toys, stationery and hygiene products, which will then be delivered to children in another part of the world where Samaritan’s Purse does missionary work. Along with the gifts, a booklet about Jesus Christ and Christmas is distributed with the boxes.

On the Samaritan’s Purse website, Operation Christmas Child is described as an “opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift.” The letter that was sent by the students to Residence Life should have made it clear that Operation Christmas Child is a religiously affiliated project. While the terms “Christmas” and “Samaritan’s Purse” already have religious implications, the letter should have better outlined exactly what religious ties the project has. Not all Queen’s students are comfortable supporting an evangelical organization.

That said, when approached with the idea of participating, Residence Life had to only take a look at the Samaritan’s Purse website to see that Operation Christmas Child is an evangelical project. With this in mind, they should have refrained from advertising and facilitating the program, perhaps instead opting to look into a non-religious organization with similar aims.

Participating in Operation Christmas Child in residence was ultimately a decision made by the dons. Students in residence should not feel obligated to participate in a project they fundamentally disagree with, which they may if their dons are promoting it. A non-religiously affiliated organization like Residence Life should not be involved with Operation Christmas Child and should have instead followed the lead of the Limestone District School Board in suggesting that groups better suited, like local churches, should take on the project. The AMS has also declined to run the project this year because of its religious implications.

In the letter sent to Residence Life, the students involved should have done a better job of properly representing the sentiments as well as intentions of Operation Christmas Child. They should have clearly outlined the fact that the project is part of the larger Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian group. Interestingly, due to low participation numbers, the students have had to organize another Change Project in support of Tree of Life, a Kingston charity for which volunteers purchase gifts for needy local children. Tree of Life is a good example that many children can benefit from a helping hand at Christmas, and they can be helped through organizations other than Operation Christmas Child.

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