As a little orphan girl, Elizabeth Groff received an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox and today she is helping pack the 200 millionth box.
Samaritan's Purse began the project, Operation Christmas Child (OCC), back in 1993, bringing gift boxes to children in developing countries around the world.
Groff grew up in Ukraine, where she received her first OCC shoebox.
"There are so many children out there just like me who have never heard of Jesus or experienced His everlasting love," Groff shares in an interview. “I know the impact a single shoebox can make. It absolutely changed my life. There’s no greater reward than being able to serve through this ministry.”
Today she is helping pack the 200 millionth shoebox, which she will then fittingly bring to her home country currently ravaged by war, Ukraine.
"I pray that this child realizes and understands that they aren’t alone. With everything going on in Ukraine, it must be so difficult for them. I want them to know that there is the hope of Jesus."
November 14-20 is National Collection Week for all the packed shoeboxes which will then be distributed throughout the coming year starting in December.
Recalling Her Life-Changing Gift
Groff was a little girl when she received her OCC shoebox but remembers it well.
"I was alone. I felt lost. That is where Jesus met me. He didn’t leave me there. He showed me that He loved and cared for me through a simple gift—through a shoebox."
As there is no set standard for what needs to go into a shoebox, every one contains different items. Groff recalls what was most precious to her; a yellow yo-yo.
"It represented love. Someone cared enough to send me this box. That shoebox gift was a direct response to my prayers, and it was a beacon of hope. I felt God’s love. He used that box to say to me that I was not an orphan—that I was His daughter."
Groff's story doesn't end there. At 13 she was adopted by an American family. As a unit, they collectively packed 150 OCC shoeboxes the first year she lived with them.
"I had this passion in me to fill more boxes and to share the love that I once received through this gift. No matter where I go, I take Operation Christmas Child with me. I can’t tell my story without the shoebox—that’s where it started."