Growing up in Romania, my parents worked in a steel plant. My dad was a mechanic and my mom was a crane operator. Even though they both worked full-time jobs, the value of money wasn’t strong enough after the fall of communism to buy very much. We had our lights on and food on the table, but we didn’t have much beyond the very basic needs.
I wore shoes that were too large so that I could wear them longer. My clothes were either hand-me-downs or bought at secondhand stores. We had a few toys, but they were poor quality.
I accepted Christ when I was 12 years old, the same year I received my shoebox gift. That year, before Christmas, my parents told me and my brothers that they didn’t have money to buy us Christmas presents. Christmas was about the only time we received anything, so this was disheartening.
One Saturday evening around this time, my siblings and I were at church for a youth gathering. We were surprised to receive the shoebox gifts after the service. I remember going home and sitting in my brother’s room on the floor, where we all laid out everything we’d received in our shoeboxes. I was completely overwhelmed with joy.
“We were surprised to receive the shoebox gifts. I was completely overwhelmed with joy.”
My favorite gifts were feminine hygiene items, a toothbrush, and soap. As a young girl, to have nice smelling soap and a nice toothbrush meant a lot to me. I treasured the feminine hygiene items because this was the first time I had ever received them. They were considered a luxury in my country and weren’t something my parents could afford.
Before I received my shoebox, I was having a hard time as a new Christian. I was trying to understand why our family was struggling and why God would allow it.
Through my shoebox gift, God showed me that He is my Provider. He provided the things I needed in my shoebox. Even though our family was struggling and I was discouraged, God still took care of us. I learned that God’s provision is always on time, and He will take care of His children.
My parents always taught us the things of the Lord and about His plan for our lives. They taught us that He is all we need and He is our salvation. My shoebox gift helped me go from knowing that in my head to understanding that in a personal way.
“Through my shoebox gift, God showed me that He is my Provider.”
When you only have a little, a shoebox is a lot. I felt loved when I realized that someone selflessly gave it to me. God’s love was wonderfully demonstrated because it was a heartfelt gift—nothing was asked in return.
Now, I pack shoeboxes every year with my husband and son. Operation Christmas Child is about so much more than a humanitarian project—it’s about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I pray that those who receive our shoeboxes feel as blessed as I did.
Your donation will allow Samaritan's Purse and our partners to further develop relationships established through Operation Christmas Child to help children thrive by providing food, water, medical care, education, and other programs.