A young woman of many talents, Tia Bethards is becoming a pioneer for her peers and for children around the world.


“At school, Tia is always the first one to volunteer to help whether it is organizing service projects for student council, offering to be in charge of props for a play, or encouraging younger students in sports and extracurricular activities. Tia is one of the most humble and giving young women I’ve met,” says Jenni Cecil, Tia’s teacher and former theater director. 

 At Lighthouse Preparatory Academy, Tia has received the Christian Leadership Award and MVP recognition in cheer as well as the Social Studies Award and academic excellence in fine arts, math, and the Lighthouse education adventure program, LEAP. Currently in her junior year at Lighthouse, Tia is the cross-country MVP and has so far received the Cross-Country Leadership Award, named the cross-country “queen of the road,” and has been given the Leadership and Investment Shout Out Award. While Tia graciously accepts recognition for her achievements, her greatest ambitions include being of service to others.  

“I think it is important to help others because we are commanded to love and help other people,” she says. “In the Bible, one of the parables Jesus uses in his teachings was the parable of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. In that passage it has a verse Luke 10:27, which states, ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ This verse says that we need to love God first and then love our neighbors.” 

For Tia, that love is not only shown to her classmates and neighbors close by, but also to young children in different countries through Operation Christmas Child (OCC). She first began packing boxes with her family as a young girl herself, helping to organize packing parties where groups pack OCC boxes with donated items. Each shoebox is filled to the brim with personal care items, school supplies, socks, accessories, and one “wow” item which can range from stuffed animals to sports balls, depending on the child’s age range. Then, Tia met a wonderful woman by the name of Michelle Hale, who works as the regional coordinator with OCC, during a packing party with the American Heritage Girls. As a member of the American Heritage Girls, Tia heard Michelle speak to the group about the joys one shoe box can bring children who are less fortunate. It didn’t take long for Michelle to see how passionate Tia is about the project, so when Tia turned 15 this year, she became a student relations year-round volunteer.  

adults her age to talk about the meaning behind the boxes and help get them involved. 

“I also now help my church, Concord Baptist, with being a central drop-off location for OCC,” she adds. 

And Tia still helps with packing parties. She most recently hosted with a few different groups including Concord Baptist Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), who packed 27 boxes, Lighthouse Preparatory Academy, who packed 35, American Heritage Girls, who packed 107, Fellowship Bible Church, who packed 137, and Concord Baptist Church, who packed 274. 

With Concord Baptist being a central drop-off, Tia also helped collect the complete shoeboxes from other area churches, organizations, and individuals, and then put them in big cartons that were loaded into semis. This year alone, Tia and her fellow volunteers were able to ship off 6,527 shoeboxes — just in time for Christmas. 

“I think it is an honor to be able to help children all over the world that are less fortunate than I am,” Tia says. “I also love how each box is a way to share the love of Jesus with children and their families in other countries.” 


Who inspires you?  

My dad and mom.

What’s your favorite book?  

The Bible, “Legend”, or “The False Prince.”

Favorite YouTube Channel? 

Possibly Sign Duo

What activities are you involved in? 

Fine arts, cross country, cheer, soccer, Operation Christmas Child, and American Heritage Girls.

What’s your favorite subject in school and why?  

I like Sociology because the subject is different from what I have studied before, and the teacher is fun. 

Who do you like to have lunch with? 

I hang out with a lot of different people at lunch. Lots of times I eat with a small group of girls from my class or the senior class. But, I also sometimes hang out with students that are younger than me — including some of the sixth and seventh grade students. Our school is small and we all have lunch at the same time, so I can eat lunch with anyone in the school which helps build relationships. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Jefferson City? 

I like going to the parks. I do lots of my running in the various parks throughout Jefferson City. They are all different and are a great way to get cross country training in without getting bored.  

What’s your favorite movie/tv show and why? 

Star Wars or the Narnia series. I enjoy Star Wars because it is really interesting and I have watched most every episode/movie that goes with it, including some of the animated series, so it is fun to connect all of the little pieces together. I also enjoy the Narnia series, but mainly the second movie “Prince Caspian” because I can quote the entire movie and I love the symbolism that the movie and the books represent. 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? 

I think I would want a speed super power to help me in cross country.

This or That

Disney or Nickelodeon
DC or Marvel
Fruits or Vegetables
Laptop or Tablet
Pizza or Hamburgers
Michael Jordan or LeBron James
Winter or Summer
In-school or At-home classes
PE or Art
Fortnight or Minecraft
Bike or Scooter
PlayStation or Xbox
TikTok or Instagram

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