A Colorado school becomes the second in a week to curtail charitable activities associated with Operation Christmas Child.
SkyView Academy received a letter from the American Humanist Association threatening legal action if the school was a part of Operation Christmas Child, said Lorrie Grove, SkyView Academy board president.
“We felt shocked and disappointed,” she said. “It was hard to believe we were receiving a threatening letter based on the good intentions of our students.”
An email from the school to parents, informing them of the situation and decision, was sent out last week, just days before donations were scheduled to be collected.
The Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational Christian organization, sends shoeboxes filled with hygiene items, candy and gifts â€” and a Gospel message â€” to children around the world.
A group of SkyView students have been participating in the program for the past two years as part of their chosen community service project, Grove said.
Kimberly Saviano, president of the Humanists of Colorado, a local chapter of American Humanist Association, said she was unaware who sent the letter, but she agreed with what it said.
“I love the idea of the gifts to children, but there are certain proprieties tied with something like this, and that is when they go off the rails,” Saviano said.
The issue is not the gift, but the religious message that comes along with it, which acts as a catch for the generosity, Saviano said.
“There are places for these type of things and a public school is not one of them,” she said.
It was the SkyView board’s determination to cut ties with the program, not the district’s, said Michelle Yi, Douglas County School District spokeswoman.
“We respect that decision,” she said.
The choice may have been unanimous, but it was not an easy one to make, Grove said of the board’s move.
“It’s disappointing some meaningful efforts of our students were misinterpreted,” she said.
Some parents said they are appalled by the letter, but understand the school had to make the decision.
“It’s the definition of bullying,” said Kendal Unruh, a SkyView parent. “They know where these toys are going, and this effects innocent children all over the country.”
A rally will be held outside SkyView, on the public sidewalk, Wednesday afternoon as school gets out, in response to the letter, Unruh said.
Ruth VanSant, whose daughter Michaela was one of the founding members of the group to participate in Operation Christmas Child, said the students’ compassion has not been stifled.
“This is still happening,” she said.
Parents and students will be collecting for Operation Christmas Child before and after school, near the building on public property, VanSant said.
To get an idea of what packing a box means, please see this video featuring Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty: