It may be early for Christmas, but not too early to start thinking about what a simple gift could mean to one child this year.
For Renan Perdomo, receiving his first present at age 8 in his home country of Honduras, the simple set of notebooks, pencils and scissors was a life-changing event. It meant he could go to school. He could learn. He felt that God had provided for him what he otherwise could not have.
“It meant a lot. It was my first present ever in life,” Perdomo said Thursday at Lafayette Christian School. “Before that, we didn’t celebrate Christmas because we had no money. It was like gold. Amazing. Unbelievable.”
Perdomo, who didn’t even have a pair of shoes until he was 13, grew up with his mother and sisters and attended a small church where his mother was pastor. Even though attending school was free, he would have to bring his own supplies, and with no money, his family couldn’t afford them.
Perdomo now lives in Mississippi after meeting his wife, who was a missionary, in Honduras. The couple were living in Honduras until his wife became pregnant, came back to the U.S. for a checkup and told to remain because she was sick. Perdomo applied for his visa to come to the United States, when he was approved, his daughter was two months old.
After seeing a presentation on Operation Christmas Child in his church in Mississippi, Perdomo realized it was the program that had changed his life as a child. After being approached by Samaritan’s Purse, the group that runs Operation Christmas Child, he agreed to tell his story to others.
At Lafayette Christian School Thursday, groups of people interested in the project listened to Perdomo’s story. The school will operate as a drop center for shoeboxes filled with simple gifts to send overseas to needy children.
This is the 14th year the school has worked with Operation Christmas Child, said Wanda Peterson, LCS business manager, who got the school involved in collections. Peterson said that, for her, Operation Christmas Child is a full season, and LCS headmaster John Cipolla said it’s a year-round job for Peterson, who started the program at the school, which now collects almost 3,000 boxes a year.
The school’s goal this year is to collect a full 3,000 boxes. Although it’s approached the number in the past, collections have dropped slightly in recent years, likely due to the economy, Peterson said.
LCS and Samaritan’s Purse representatives were asking any people, groups, churches, business or organizations that wanted to be involved in preparing and donating boxes to spread the word. The school will act as an official drop off for gifts Nov. 12 to 19.
For more information on the program, go to samaritanspurse.org/occ.