(CNN)Cameron Dobbs is a volleyball player turned coach at the University of Miami (UM). But Dobbs’ role on the court isn’t her most important position; she leads Operation Christmas Child, a drive that helps children around the world, one shoebox at a time.
“These kids get their first Christmas gift they’ve ever had,” Dobbs said. “I know for me, even at 21 years old, I’m still thrilled to open something on Christmas Day. These kids for their first time ever get to do that.”Operation Christmas Child started in 1993 under Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization. The project sends shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts and hygiene items to kids overseas.Dobbs is the main point person for the project at UM. She also works with Florida International University and the school’s sports teams.”So I knew our big thing this year was really going to be donations with money rather than people shopping and bringing in their own boxes,” she said.Read More”Because we had a flood of donations coming in, that meant that I had to go and do all the shopping.”Dobbs spent many nights during this year’s project awake until 2 a.m. or later, packing and labeling boxes from her apartment.”After our final collection date, we ended up setting a record, passing what we’ve done in the past two years,” she said. “And on this third year, even in 2020, even amidst Covid-19, we collected 759 shoeboxes.”Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videosUM Chaplain Mike Blanc oversees Dobbs’ efforts each year.”Cam, she’s amazing,” said Blanc. “Like, just the different things that she does, it impresses me. We couldn’t ask for a better leader.”Over the past three years, more than 1,000 shoeboxes have been donated to the project via UM.”It blows my mind every year seeing how many student athletes, how many of the football coaches’ wives tag onto this Operation Christmas Child and are just so excited to help and so excited to give and help these children,” said Dobbs.”It’s an incredible organization and it’s so much more than just a little Christmas gift.”