Primary School in Northern Ireland Spreads Shoebox Joy Through Competition

6th September 2019

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Ballykelly Primary School used the fun of a school-wide competition to collect over 100 shoeboxes, and encourage others to do the same.

Ideas for Schools

Each year, as the Christmas season approaches, the spirit of giving comes right along with it. For the students at Ballykelly Primary School in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, their desire to give back inspired some friendly competition.

Ballykelly Primary School, a lively school which teaches around 300 students, seeks to support a charity each year. The school selected Operation Christmas Child as their Term 1 Charity with the help of the School Council, comprised of eleven P5-P7 students with a desire to help others.

Helen Cole, Principal of Ballykelly Primary School, shared her excitement for partnering with Operation Christmas Child:

“The benefits of supporting Samaritan’s Purse for the children here are enormous. it fits into the caring, supporting ethos of our school. It helps the children here to understand what it’s like for children who are less fortunate than themselves. It gives them a sense of looking after, caring for, and supporting others. The children really love to do it!”

Principal sitting with students packing shoeboxes

Principal Cole joins in the fun by helping to pack shoeboxes. She is thrilled by the opportunity they provide for her students to get excited about helping others.

When the School Council chose to partner with Operation Christmas Child, they encouraged their peers to participate in a unique way: a school-wide shoebox collecting competition!

We had a big assembly for it”, shared 10-year-old Cara, a member of the School Council. “We told them that if they brought in a load of shoeboxes, the class that brought in the most shoeboxes wouldn’t have to do homework.

This exciting promise energised the students, and Ballykelly Primary School collected over 100 shoeboxes!

Cara holding a shoebox

Cara loves packing shoeboxes. Her favourite thing to pack is a cuddly toy!

The winners, an enthusiastic P3 class (aged six to seven), exclaimed how happy they were to win the competition.

I was really excited because I don’t really like homework!”, Oscar, a member of the winning class said, which was met by the agreeing giggles of his classmates.

But more importantly than the homework pass, the students shared how happy they were to give to others through Operation Christmas Child.

Matthew, a member of the School Council, said “We really wanted to give to Operation Christmas Child this year because we wanted to give people less fortunate than us more opportunities.”

Conor, another member of the School Council, explained that he likes packing shoeboxes because he wants people to feel happy.

Matthew holding an OCC teddy

Matthew loves Operation Christmas Child because it gives him and his peers the opportunity to serve children in need.

Ballykelly Primary School’s partnership with Operation Christmas Child not only brought joy to children in need, but also to the children at the school. Because of the amazing response, they plan to hold another shoebox packing competition this year.

We plan to do it again, the students here genuinely want to help children in other countries, there’s a lot of compassion here,” shared Darren Lynch, a P5 teacher and director of the School Council. “The competition idea worked really well”, he added.

The students and staff of Ballykelly Primary School are an inspiring example of how combining giving and fun can create an amazing opportunity for students to give back to others during the Christmas season.
If you want to learn how your school can get involved with Operation Christmas Child, and maybe even host a shoebox packing competition of their own, you can find lots of resources to get you started on our ideas for schools page.

Ideas for Schools

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