Operation Christmas Child
Elizabeth Groff is on a special journey to help pack the 200 millionth Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift since the Samaritan’s Purse project began in 1993.
Elizabeth, who received a shoebox gift years ago as a lonely child in an orphanage in Ukraine, is currently traveling to different U.S. drop-off locations and processing centers with the symbolic shoebox to encourage people to prayerfully pack boxes in Jesus’ Name.
The project will soon reach this historic milestone as faithful shoebox packers bring their gifts to more than 5,000 locations across the country during National Collection Week (Nov. 14-21). We praise God for the millions of children, as well as families and communities, who’ve been reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ over nearly three decades.
Elizabeth, wants people to know that God is using these gifts to demonstrate His love to children who are in desperate need.
“There are so many children out there just like me who have never heard of Jesus or experienced His everlasting love,” she said. “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.”
At each stop along the national tour, Elizabeth is adding a gift item chosen by voters on our Operation Christmas Child social media platforms. She started her journey by packing a doll on Nov. 12 in Denver at a local church that serves as a drop-off location. She plans to make her way to the Chicago area on Nov. 14; then she’s on to Nashville (Nov. 16); and Punta Gorda, Florida, (Nov. 18) where Samaritan’s Purse is working after Hurricane Ian.
The final leg of her U.S. journey ends at our Charlotte Processing Center on Dec. 3, where Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse president, will add the final gift to the special shoebox.
Elizabeth’s adventure will culminate later in December when she hand delivers the celebratory 200 millionth shoebox to a young girl in Ukraine affected by the ongoing war.
“I pray that this child realizes and understands that they aren’t alone. With everything going on Ukraine, it must be so difficult for them,” Elizabeth said. “I want them to know that there is the hope of Jesus.”
Elizabeth, growing up as a young girl in Ukraine, received her shoebox gift during a time she described as “rock bottom”—when she felt completely broken.
“I was alone. I felt lost. That is where Jesus met me. He didn’t leave me there,” she said. “He showed me that He loved and cared for me through a simple gift—through a shoebox.”
Elizabeth’s favorite item in her box was a shiny yellow yo-yo. “It represented love. Someone cared enough to send me this box,” she said. “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.”
An American family adopted Elizabeth when she was 13. She joined her new family in packing 150 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts that first year. “I had this passion in me to fill more boxes and to share the love that I once received through this gift.”
Elizabeth has never stopped packing boxes. She started a shoebox club at her school and introduced Operation Christmas Child to other teenagers. Then, as a student at Virginia Tech University, Elizabeth headed a 300-member shoebox club on campus.
Now she’s packing shoeboxes with family and friends and continues to share her incredible story of God’s faithfulness. “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.”
National Collection Week is Nov. 14-21. Check out these great gift ideas and find a drop-off location closest to you. You can also Build a Shoebox Online.
Elizabeth placed a baby doll in the 200 millionth shoebox at Calvary South Denver in Colorado. Elizabeth said that “wow” items such as dolls and stuffed animals are so important to pack because they instantly capture a child’s attention.
“The ‘wow’ item is the first thing a child will see in the box. It’s something for them to hold onto and take with them wherever they go,” she said. “When they get that special toy, like a baby doll, it’s so exciting. It’s their own, and the beautiful thing is that they didn’t have to do anything to receive it.”
In Colorado, Elizabeth also added items selected by the Samaritan’s Purse international affiliate offices. Those included: a flashlight selected by the United Kingdom; a reusable canvas bag by Canada; a plush koala toy by Australia/New Zealand; a jump rope by Germany; and a pencil sharpener by Korea.
Calvary South Denver hosted the kick-off event on Nov. 12. The church has been a shoebox drop-off location for many years, with this year being their first as a central drop-off location. Debbie and Mark Dennis have served as the church’s Operation Christmas Child project leaders for 20 years.
“It’s not just a child that is touched by a shoebox, but also their family. I think Operation Christmas Child is the greatest ministry out there as far as being able to touch so many lives with the Gospel,” Debbie said.
Students from Colorado Christian University joined in the event to help pack a number of shoebox gifts. Their efforts were much appreciated!
Skip and Amy, K-LOVE Radio DJs and host of the morning show, also came out to celebrate. Amy prayed over the 200 millionth box and for this 2022 season:
“I pray that the children who will be receiving these boxes will know that Jesus loves them—that it will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I pray that they will be changed for eternity.”
Operation Christmas Child
Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse is sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with millions of boys and girls in more than 100 countries each year. Many of these children have never before received a present or heard the true meaning of Christmas—until they open a gift-filled shoebox from a person like you. Some people are not able to give the $10 per shoebox we request for shipping and related costs. By adopting a shoebox, you can partner with them to deliver the Gospel and help "bring salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, ESV).
Operation Christmas Child 013477
Adopt a Shoebox: $10 | Adopt a Carton of 15 Boxes: $150