Big Blue Marble students

As students at the Franklin location of Big Blue Marble Academy recently filled shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and hygiene items to donate to underprivileged youth worldwide, they were also learning the importance of contributing to society.

Big Blue Marble Academy, a leader in early childhood education that opened a facility in Franklin in September, has partnered with Samaritan’s Purse and its Operation Christmas Child program since 2014.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nonprofit organization providing spiritual and physical aid to people around the world, and Operation Christmas Child is one of its several ministry projects.   

Throughout its locations across the country, the academy established a goal of filling 1,250 shoeboxes and ended up exceeding that number with 1,887 assembled boxes. 

The youngsters at BBMA Franklin were thrilled to be doing their part, according to an official with the company, and in turn they were getting a valuable lesson. 

“Franklin has really embraced it, and it has been a good project for us,” said Carol Dobyns, BBMA’s regional director for Nashville, which also includes schools in Spring Hill and in Murfreesboro.

“Service learning is really the core of our curriculum, and we focus on making sure our children — no matter how young they are — know they can make a difference in the world. I think that’s what every parents wants for their child right now.”

After the shoeboxes were filled, they were sent to a local church for distribution to Charlotte, N.C., where Operation Christmas Child is located. From there, they were sent to various locations throughout the world, and students could see where their boxes were headed. 

“We trace where those boxes are going to go so the children can follow,” Dobyns explained. “If their boxes go to Ukraine or Peru or wherever, they’ll know where that is and we spend time looking at that on a globe and talking about what those children are like in that part of the world.”

In addition to geography, the preschoolers at BBMA learn math, science and other parts of its curriculum through their participation in the Operation Christmas Child program.  

“It’s a really good fit with our curriculum and our total focus on service learning, which is really important to us,” Dobyns said. “We think that builds character in children and makes them better members of society.”