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Athletes take part in Operation Christmas Child

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College athletes are getting into the Christmas spirit early by playing Santa’s elves for underprivileged children.

Mark Fox, head women’s basketball coach, and Lonnie Isaac, head tennis coach, both attend Koerner Heights Church in Newton, which is participating in “Operation Christmas Child,” a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian aid organization.

The coaches help lead Bethel’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and “decided that Operation Christmas Child might be a good project for our FCA group to spearhead here on campus,” Fox said.

Operation Christmas Child is sometimes called “Shoebox Ministry,” because donors are asked to collect small gifts that fit into a shoebox.

“The program is about sending shoeboxes filled with gifts to parts of the world where children may not otherwise receive a gift,” Isaac said. “The gifts do not have to be extravagant – you simply fill a shoebox with some things you think a young child might like.” 

FCA has invited anyone interested – individuals, teams, mods or halls, faculty or staff members – to join in the project.  Bethel FCA’s goal is to put together 50 boxes from the college.

Fox’s women’s basketball team recently took a group shopping trip to the Newton Wal-Mart to purchase items for their shoeboxes, and Isaac planned to do the same with the tennis teams.

“We chose this because we felt like it is an extremely worthy cause,” said Fox. “We certainly hope it will not only impact a number of young people in impoverished areas, but that it will leave an impression on our young people as well.”

More information about Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child is at

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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