Hershey Schools says giving is better than receiving

Operation Christmas Child
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 7:01 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Giving is better than receiving at least that is the mindset of Hershey Public Schools at Christmas Time as they fill up empty shoe boxes full of holiday cheer for children all around the world. Michalee Brownawell is head of the Operation Christmas Child efforts at Hershey Schools and is excited to send Christmas cheer to kids all over the globe.

“So Operation Christmas child is an organization. So they do these boxes and they ask communities to fill as many boxes as they can and then the community ships them to the corporation and they distribute them to any kid around the world, you never know where it’s gonna go and they get Christmas gifts,” says Brownawell.

Michalee Brownawell’s family has been filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child for nearly twenty years. They brought that tradition to Hershey public schools when Michalee’s oldest sister was a senior in 2017. Then the tradition was kept up by Michalee’s middle sister and then passed down to her.

“Well I didn’t start it it was my oldest sister Bailey that started it her Senior year and that was in 2017. So, that’s kinda how it started and what Bailey wanted to do. We’ve been doing this in my family for probably almost 20 years now, so that started and 2017 and then my other sister Carlee my older sister took it on in 2018 and 19,” Brownawell says.

The boxes are filled with different items based on gender and age. Hygiene items like soap and toothbrushes are encouraged, but also fun items like coloring books and pencil can be put in the boxes as well.

“For hygene and that stuff most kids don’t get hygiene products just because they don’t have it, so we make sure we pack them with toothbrushes and bars of soap. So that’s kinda on the hygiene part and then also we pack like wash clothes, band aids anything that you think can go we pack it. And then on the toys side we like to pack it with coloring books just like fun activities like coloring pencils, coloring utensils I guess. And then we pack them with toys like anything you can think of we just pack them with toys that can fit in the boxes. And then for the girls we make sure there is a hairbrush ponytails and everything cause I don’t know what I would do without a hairbrush in my day to day life,” Brownawell explains.

Now that the torch has been passed to Michalee to keep to keep the tradition going she hopes to be able to continue to grow it just like her sisters did before her.

”So the first year it was only ... they put together 90 boxes and the next year when Carlee took it on they put together around 120 and then the following year they did around 180 so that was pretty awesome. Then this year we now have about 184 boxes,” explains Brownawell.

When Michalee graduates she is hoping to find someone who can help continue spreading the holiday cheer through the shoe boxes that have been filled with so much care.

“I would like to pick somebody that I can trust them with this massive project and so I know that they’ll do great with it so I’m trying to think of who I want to give it to.”

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