Operation Christmas Child

By: Camila D. González Sotomayor

When people think about Christmas, happiness, joy and lots of stories come to their minds. Christmas has always been one of the most exciting and special occasion during the year because of the quality time spent with family and friends, the parties and recess of work and university. People, especially children, identify December 25th with gifts. As people know, gifts are a simple and special detail that makes others think “you were thinking about me;” it’s a creative way to let others know how much we love and care for them.

During the past months, The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Mayagüez Chapter (SHPE-UPRM) with its Community Outreach Coordinator (COC), Camila González, ran a famous activity around the world named “Operation Christmas Child” (OCC). This activity which takes place every year consists on preparing shoeboxes with presents that after a long process of checking one by one end up in the tender hands of  poor children in some place of the world. OCC is an activity from the Samaritan’s Purse and their purpose with this lovely cause is to give, like all people do in Christmas, a simple gift that will bring out smiles and happiness to children who have suffered during the year.

Part of the boxes for Operation Christmas Child in the SHPE-UPRM's office.

Every year thousands of boxes are collected and spread out to children and SHPE-UPRM decided to be part of the team. From August to November 18th, 2011, the student organization started the marketing of the activity among the university, middle schools, high schools and churches to achieve the goal of 400 boxes. Besides a good marketing, members of the E-Board and the Community Outreach Support Team apply other techniques for the benefit of the collection by communicating with their professors and teachers of other schools to give bonus points to those students who collaborate with the activity by preparing a shoebox.

Everything was about hard work. The student organization office of SHPE-UPRM, located in the Industrial Engineering building, was full of boxes covered with colorful Christmas wrapping paper and decorative ribbons. Every day of the last week near the deadline, boxes were located in cars and then moved to Aguada’s drop off center. Then, after boxes were verified, they were sent to the official drop off center in Isabela and finally, on Tuesday morning, November 22nd, all the shoeboxes were sent to the United States. If everything goes well, all the boxes collected in Puerto Rico and near places will end in the African Continent.

All the dedication, effort and perseverance paid off. SHPE-UPRM passed their goal of 400 boxes and collected 1,455 for one of the most lovely and big causes for Christmas, Operation Christmas Child. It was the first time that the organization ran the activity and it was incredible and successful. Everyone was happy and satisfied with the results. Also, one of the activity coordinators in Puerto Rico called the SHPE-UPRM’s COC to congratulate her and the organization for the hard work and results obtained.

One of the persons that helped Camila González to achieve the first goal of 400 was Natasha Santiago. Natasha is a freshman student from Civil Engineering who is part of SHPE-UPRM and dedicates her free time to the Community Support Team of the organization. Natasha says “I really like to help people every time I can; I love community work. I was excited about Operation Christmas Child and their purpose. Like I said before, I enjoy helping people but the fact that everything that I was doing was to impact the children’s community make me put some extra effort and love in the activity.”

The responsible of the activity! Iván Otero (External VP) and Camila González (Community Outreach Coordinator).

Another person who dedicated a lot of his time to the activity was Juan José Rosado. Like Natasha, Juan is an engineering student that dedicates his free time to the Community Support Team of SHPE-UPRM. Juan shares his experience and says “I was in shock of how the SHPE-UPRM office was some days before the deadline; there were boxes, boxes and boxes everywhere! It was funny to help the SHPE-UPRM’s COC during the week to move the boxes from the office to her car. Every time she left the university her car was full of boxes (with more than 150 boxes each time). I really enjoyed what I did and feel proud of what we got.”

There were few students like Natasha and Juan that dedicated a good amount of their free time to support this activity. One of those was Gladynel Saavedra who is part of the Community Support Team and decided to share the activity with her mom’s school. Gladynel says “Definitely, Operation Christmas Child was a lovely and good experience for me. I’m excited of the big amount of boxes that we get as a team and I’m happy to know that my mom’s school contributed with more than 300 boxes.”

Another girl who decided to share the activity in another place other than the university was Gabriela Torres. Gabriela is an engineering student and part of the SHPE-UPRM’s E-Board. She shared the activity with her mom’s school, and like Gladynel, she obtain good results. Gabriela says “I loved Operation Christmas Child and their objective. To have contributed with more than 200 boxes to make this activity a successful one was the best thing that I did for this semester. I think that many children will be happy this Christmas because of the presents. We did this with love and I hope that they like it.”

Every day is a perfect day to share what we have with the ones we love. This activity is a great opportunity for people to, during Christmas, feel empathy for those who don’t have the same resources and luck that they do. Without a doubt, SHPE-UPRM did a great work this semester with Operation Christmas Child. Next year, people who didn’t participate of the activity, could do it and the ones that did it this semester could help bring out smiles and happiness in children and their families again. Thumbs up for SHPE-UPRM!



  1. December 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm12

    Thats just beautiful what that organization and you are doing i did enjoy reading about it keep it up 😉

  2. comp3010 said,

    January 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm01

    Camilla you are doing great. Congrats
    – Joseph

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