ELIZABETH GROFF RECEIVED AN OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD SHOEBOX YEARS AGO IN UKRAINE. NOW SHE’S HELPING TO PACK THE 200 MILLIONTH GIFT ON A TOUR ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.

200 Millionth Shoebox Tour Begins!

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 GROFF IS TAKING THE 200 MILLIONTH SHOEBOX GIFT ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND THEN TO UKRAINE.

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 centres 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.

ELIZABETH GROFF IS ON A JOURNEY TO HELP PACK SHOEBOXES FOR CHILDREN IN NEED.

The final leg of her U.S. journey ends at our Charlotte Processing Centre 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.”

Sending God’s Love

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 favourite 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.”

ELIZABETH, RIGHT, RECEIVED A SHOEBOX GIFT AS AN ORPHAN LIVING IN UKRAINE. NOW SHE’S HELPING TO PACK THE 200 MILLIONTH SHOEBOX.

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.

Follow the Tour from West to East Across the Country

Nov. 12: All the News from Denver

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.

MARK AND DEBBIE DENNIS HAVE BEEN OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD PROJECT LEADERS AT THEIR CHURCH FOR TWO DECADES.

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.”

Nov. 14: Kicking Off National Collection Week Near Chicago

On the first day of National Collection Week, shoebox packers started dropping off their Operation Christmas Child gifts across the country, including at the Samaritan’s Purse Midwest Ministry Centre in Aurora, Illinois (suburban Chicago).

VOLUNTEERS ENJOY A SHOEBOX PACKING RACE DURING NATIONAL COLLECTION WEEK IN CHICAGO.

Elizabeth Groff continued the 200 millionth shoebox tour and added a beautiful necklace to the box. Since the piece of jewellery took up very little space, all three items that shoebox packers had voted on by social media were added to the special box—the necklace, a tiara, and a pair of sunglasses.

As the voter-selected items were announced, Elizabeth Groff shared with volunteers how the shoebox gift she received as a little girl first taught her about Jesus. It showed her that she was not an orphan—she was God’s daughter.

Carlos, a K-LOVE Radio DJ, prayed for the 200 millionth shoebox and the girl who will eventually receive it in Ukraine later this December. He also joined in on the processing centre line to kickstart the season of preparing shoebox gifts for overseas shipment.

Carlos said, “This is what the church to me looks like. It’s not just a building—it’s us coming together to do something amazing. To know that 200 million kids have gotten just a touch of Jesus and that [these shoeboxes] go to places that most of us never will.”

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