Greeks celebrate Christmas with charity for kids


Daniel Bello, a sophomore from Algonquin studying marketing, packs a shoebox with presents Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in the Student Center’s Old Main room. Bello participated in the charity event Operation Christmas Child, a gift-giving initiative sponsored by the university’s chapter of Alpha Tau Omega. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

By Royale Bonds

Greek organizations started celebrating Christmas early Thursday evening with a gift-giving charity event meant to benefit children around the world. 

About 75 people helped assemble shoeboxes filled with donated items in the Student Center’s Old Main room as part of Alpha Tau Omega’s third-annual Operation Christmas Child drive.

Spread out across a row of folding tables were bars of soap, tissues, school supplies, stuffed animals, action figures and more. One by one the volunteers drew from the array of items as Christmas jingles played in the background.


“We’re just sending all these gifts to children who are in need who don’t really get gifts for Christmas as much as other kids,” said Noah Large, an ATO pledge. “So we’re just trying to give back to them to make sure they have a better Christmas and make sure they’re enjoying everything.”

The fraternity partnered with Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian charitable organization that provides aid to people around the world. As of Thursday, ATO collected $1,200 in donations for this year, said Kohl Lamb, ATO’s philanthropist chairman.

The value of each box ranged between about $30 and $40, said Lamb, who expected to get about 250 boxes together by the end of the evening. He said alumni, parents of university students and chapter members all donated to the cause.

Lamb, a senior from Ottowa studying aviation management, said he has run the event for the last two years but has been involved with the organization since he was a child. In his final year at the university, he said he has seen participation grow to its highest point — a trend he hopes will continue after he leaves.

“We realized how good of a cause it was,” Lamb said. “It’s been a good experience so far and we know it’s all going to a really great place for children who are really in need.”

Staff writer Royale Bonds can be reached at (618) 536-3326, [email protected] or on Twitter @royale_b.

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