Nearly two decades ago, Elizabeth Groff received a gift that would forever change her life. At the time, Groff was an 11-year-old living in an orphanage located in eastern Ukraine.
Being the recipient of a shoebox from Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, Groff — who is now 28 years old and living in Texas — recalls the yellow yo-yo in the shoebox.
“It may seem small, but it is powerful when delivered with a message of love and hope! It changed my life,” Groff said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
“Eighteen years ago, a shoebox gift opened my heart to God’s Word and now I have the opportunity to personally demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to a Ukrainian child. We serve a faithful God! Being able to pack and deliver this special shoebox gift will be a highlight of my Christmas season!”
Operation Christmas Child first began in 1993 when Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and president of Samaritan’s Purse, was asked to give presents to needy children during the Bosnian War.
The program partners up with churches throughout the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and South Korea to deliver shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for children in countries suffering from war, disease, poverty and disaster, according to The Christian Post.
“We collected about 11,000 shoeboxes that first year, and this year we are preparing to collect our 200 millionth shoebox,” Graham said in a statement. “We couldn’t do this project without the churches and the hundreds of thousands of incredible volunteers who are involved across the country and around the world.”
With the program about to deliver its 200 millionth shoebox, it is only fitting that this shoebox will be packed and hand-delivered to a Ukrainian child in need by Groff herself, who in turn can bring another child closer to God.
While the drop-off date has come and gone, Operation Christmas Child allows Good Samaritans to pack a shoebox online to share God’s love with children all over the world.