Most Blount Countians have probably heard of Operation Christmas Child. The program is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that shares the love of Christ with children all across the world with the simple act of giving a shoebox filled with special gifts.
For those that pack the shoeboxes, rarely do they witness the excitement that comes when a child opens that special package. But behind every shoebox is a story. And this Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 p.m., that story comes to Lester Memorial United Methodist Church.
Vladimir Prokhnevskiy received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox as a 9-year-old in Kiev, Ukraine. Growing up in a family of nine kids, Prokhnevskiy didn’t get many gifts and food was a luxury.
But one harsh winter day, Prokhnevskiy and his siblings rode a bus and then a tram, finally arriving at a church where the brightly colored, gift-filled shoeboxes were being handed out. He was so excited about his gift that “time seemed to stand still for a brief moment.”
Like most kids, his favorite gifts were candy and toys, but what he treasured was the minty-flavored string of dental floss and his very own toothbrush. The shoebox represented to Prokhnevskiy unconditional love, allowing him and his siblings to forget their struggles for a moment and just feel loved.
Prokhnevskiy will be in Oneonta Sunday to share how God used an Operation Christmas Child shoebox in his life. There is no cost to attend this event and it is open to everyone. To register, go to forms.gle/j5nFTiegefhaTbJ38.
Despite a global pandemic, millions of shoebox packers shared the true meaning of Christmas with children in need this past holiday season. Samaritan’s Purse sent more than 9.1 million shoebox gifts to children around the world.
Each gift-filled shoebox – packed with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items – is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift these children have ever received. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 188 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories.