DOBSON — Winning games is always among the top priorities for Surry Community College’s softball program. The opportunity to help others is just as important, however, and the Knights continued a holiday tradition this year by taking part in Operation Christmas Child.
For the fifth straight year, members of Surry’s softball team participated in the Operation Christmas Child program. A Christian organization, Operation Christmas Child is a program in which shoeboxes are filled with toys, school supplies, personal items and other small gifts and distributed to less fortunate children in more than 100 countries across the world.
In total, Surry’s players and coaching staff put together 30 of the boxes to send across the globe. For Surry head coach Blaine Bullington, Operation Christmas Child is an opportunity for the team to form a closer bond by helping their fellow man.
“We are around softball so much we try to make sure we are doing other things that are positive for the team but positive for the community, and this is overwhelmingly one of the greatest things we could be a part of,” Bullington said. “It is done with a lot of love in our hearts. The girls are willing to give and they pay for their own shipping, which has gone up to $9, in addition to filling the boxes on their own. I think it is just a great time for us and a great cause.”
Kayla Shore, a sophomore first baseman from Forbush High School, has taken part in Operation Christmas Child for several years now with her church — Union Grove Baptist in Yadkinville. For the past four years, she has gone above and beyond in the effort, heading to an Operation Christmas Child distribution center in Boone. After all these years, she said the program remains special to her.
“It has meant to a lot to me, especially since I want to be in elementary education, to see those kids,” Shore said. “They only get that one box and to see the light in their eyes, it is amazing. When you get there (at the distribution center), it is always packed full of people working. You watch a video and it shows these kids getting a box. Then everybody comes together to pray over the box and that is what means so much – that so many people care about these kids.”
Like Shore, Surry freshman outfielder MacKenzie Tilley volunteered her time at the Operation Christmas Child distribution center in Boone on Nov. 21. An Elkin High School alum, Tilley has gone the past three years with her church — Pleasant Hill Baptist in Elkin.
“It is just a blessing to be a part of someone else’s Christmas. I love packing those shoeboxes because you can leave notes and even pictures of you and your family, and sometimes they write back,” said Tilley. “Other people in my church have done that and sometimes they share the return letters in our Sunday school classes. It really is touching.”
Bullington said once the team has finished packing all of its boxes, they are dropped off at First Baptist Church in Dobson before heading to a distribution center. Bullington hopes to take the entire team to the Boone center sometime soon during one of the annual Operation Christmas Child efforts.
“They say it is really amazing and Franklin Graham comes in quite often,” Bullington said.