by LIZ ONUFER | photo by Zeena Gregg Photography

Operation Christmas Child

It might be hard to believe that something as simple as a shoebox can be so meaningful. For 92064 volunteer Itzy Haumschilt, a shoebox can change a life.

For the last thirteen years, Itzy has volunteered for Operation Christmas Child. As the Area Coordinator for North County San Diego, she recruits volunteers, facilitates groups, and forms partnerships with local businesses. A project of the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, the group fills shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and accessories like watches and flashlights. Itzy explained the meaning behind the gift: “We deliver shoeboxes to spread the beautiful gift of Jesus Christ.” Thus far, Itzy acknowledged her biggest accomplishment was packing 22,000 shoeboxes with her team. In 2013, the local group was part of the much bigger effort that shipped 9.9 million shoeboxes across the world. In all, children in 100 countries have received more than 100 million shoeboxes.


The reason for all the hours is simple, “To witness the joy of a simple gift and how children are so thankful for everything they get,” Itzy shared. The small gift is just the beginning of the group’s work. “After the children receive their shoeboxes, we go through the Greatest Journey with them,” she said, referring to a religious study program. Her inspiration comes from her love of God and her love for children. “My reason is to do more with what we have. We live in an abundant country and we are blessed by that.”

Itzy shares her passion for Operation Christmas Child with her family. She and her husband, Kevin, met while volunteering together and have been married for nineteen years. Longtime Poway residents, they love the family atmosphere of the community. Their daughter Sophie, 18, has been an integral part of the youth program for Operation Christmas Child. Now at Biola University, she is studying to be a teacher. Their 15-year-old son, Trevor, finds his passion in music and has been involved in theatre for years.

When asked her one wish for the organization, Itzy responded it would be “for every San Diegan to pack a shoebox, any religion, any group.” Operation Christmas Child is always seeking volunteers, whether it is year-round or just for the holiday season. Itzy explained, “Anyone can help. Children, adults, anyone with a heart of service.”

Name: Itziar Haumschilt
Community: Poway since 1994
Volunteer Affiliation: Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse)
Profession: I am the president of Homework Character Clubs of America and the side director of the Homework Club After School program at Valley Elementary School.
Family: Husband – Kevin Haumschilt; Children – Sophie (18), Trevor (15)
Hobbies: Traveling, singing, dancing, baking
Favorite Local Spots: Old Poway Park, Poway Lake, and Villa Capri

Group: Operation Christmas Child
Mission: Give good news, great joy to children around the world since 1993.