The gift of a simple shoebox can be life-changing …

Livia grew up in an orphanage in Romania. Life there, she said, was hard. And the saddest part? She felt unloved.

She spoke of how everything she’d ever been given seemed to get taken away. Tears welled in her eyes as she recalled her childhood and how as a little girl she’d yearned for something as simple as hairclips.

One day, Samaritans Purse, a Christian relief organization run by Franklin Graham, showed up at the orphanage to deliver gift filled boxes through Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Livia remembered Connie, an OCC rep. who cuddled her and shared the love of Jesus.

“It meant a lot to me, because I’d been kissing pictures of Jesus and making Cross signs, and to hear the gospel for the very first time – and the meaning – meant a lot to me,” Livia said.

When she lifted the lid from her box, what do you think was at the top? You guessed it, a bag of hairclips. An elated Livia put every single one in her hair.

“I could not believe my eyes,” she said. You could put something that simple in someone’s box and make their dream come true.

Last year, Woodloch Pines Resort collected 50 gift-filled shoeboxes – many of them through the personal efforts of the Kiesendahl Family and caring staff members. What if that number could double this year? What if 100 children could feel the touch of another’s heart half a world away? Would you consider helping out?

Shoe boxes may be filled with flashlights and spare batteries; hygiene items such as soap ( Ivory Soap is fun because it floats and helps kids bathing in rivers) , washcloth, comb/brush, toothpaste, toothbrush; sewing kits; toys; stuffed animals; T-shirts; shoes; flip flops; and school supplies such as crayons, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, regular pencils, pens; hard candy/ lollipops; and anything else you think a child would like. Age groups are 0-4, 4-10, and 10-14. Please do not include war-related items or liquids such as shampoo, bubble-stuff, etc,, and no chocolates.

Each box costs $7.00 to ship. Even if you are unable to fill a box and cover the shipping cost, you could opt to do one or the other or simply give individual items or monetary donations. Every donation counts. Every donation is a chance to put a smile on a child’s face.  Donations are being accepted in Woodloch’s Reservation Department now through the first week of November.  Should you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at:

To see the videos of those who have benefitted from Operation Christmas Child’s very important mission, please visit the organization’s website here.

Here are even more stories of children who have benefited:

Juri from Honduras was also an orphan. She loved everything about her gift-filled shoebox. But her favorite item? The picture of the little girl who’d made it, along with a note that read: “Jesus loves you and so do I.”

God knew how she’d need that note in the future – 7 years later, to be exact. Overwhelmed by a seemingly hopeless life, she’d run away to the mountains. It was there that she cried out to God, hurt and angry, wondering why her life had to be the way it was.

And at her greatest moment of need, something miraculous happened. “That’s when I pulled out the picture of the little girl and her note that said: ‘Jesus loves you, and I love you, too.’ And that was my answer.”  Three months later, she dedicated her life to the Lord and now thanks the gift giver for giving her hope and sharing the gospel.

OCC also remembers a trip to South Africa, where they met a very special little girl. She was in a crib and when she rolled over, they realized she had no eyes. When they delivered the gift-filled shoebox, it was if it had been hand selected just for her.   “Everything in there had to deal with feel and touch and noise. There were bells. And the joy that came over this little girl instantly,” meant everything, the OCC rep. said.

Franklin Graham remembered meeting a child in Bosnia who had not coat. “It was wintertime and we were in a school and the windows were blown out and it was cold.” Guess what was in his box? A warm coat, in just the right size. “We have seen over the years where God directed shoeboxes to the right kid  – at the right time – at the right place – with something that kid needed and I believe it’s because of the prayers that are behind the boxes. So, God has a plan …”

What’s your plan?