Hanna Locklear knows the true meaning of Christmas. Since she was a young toddler, the fifth-grade student has worked to spread that love and joy with others.
With her family by her side, Hanna took an idea from a world-wide project, Operation Christmas Child, and turned her efforts into a community event that would support children of the Hopi Indian Tribe.
According to Hanna’s mother, Lesa, Hanna has always loved packing shoe boxes for the organization started by the Rev. Billy Graham. Through her church, Hanna began packing shoe boxes when she was just one-year old.
“Hanna has a heart for sharing and caring,” Lesa shared. “Back in September, when she saw the photos the Rev. Roscoe Emmanuel posted on his website, it really touched her heart to see how tough life is on the Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona.”
Emmanuel, who is a member of New Bethel Baptist Church, where Hanna and her family attend, is currently serving as a missionary in Arizona, preaching and sharing God’s word to the Hopi Indians.
“It’s so important to give back to others because we have been blessed with so much,” Hanna said. “Other people may need these items so much more than we do. Christmas is all about the love of Christ, and I want others to feel that love too.”
Hanna’s church, with the help of her parents, organized a shoe box collection for Emmanuel to share with the children her is serving. From those efforts, Hanna decided to do a shoe box project at her school, Sunset Avenue.
“As a member of the Coharie Tribe, Hanna wanted to have a project that honored our November celebration of Native American Heritage month in North Carolina,” Lesa said. “She wanted the kids of Sunset Avenue to reach out to Native American kids in Arizona.”
Enlisting the help of her fellow classmates, Hanna sent a letter out to all students, asking they donate items that could be packed and shipped to the Hopi children. Small toys, pencils, pens, crayons, notebooks, coloring books, toiletry items, hard candies and a card were all Hanna asked for from the students.
She donated two plastic shoe boxes to each homeroom to help the classes get started.
Hoping to collect at least 25 shoe boxes, Hanna was happily surprised when her school rallied and she was able to collect 37 shoe boxes, with several bags of extra filler items.
The young student says she is very proud of her school for their effort to help the Hopi Indian children.
“The best part is knowing that kids at my school were excited about participating in sharing with others,” Hanna expressed. “They would come up to me and would be so excited to tell me they brought something for the shoe boxes. That made me feel so good because I know that kids at my school really care about other kids and are thrilled to share with kids of the Hopi tribe.”
Continuing to show her love for others, Hanna said she hopes the Hopi children will have a happy holiday when they open their gifts and know that people from Sampson County care about them and their happiness.
“I hope that our gifts will make the Hopi kids happy in knowing that other children really do care about them,” Hanna said. “Celebrating Christmas feels so good when you can do something from the heart for someone else.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.