Samaritan’s Purse reached a new milestone in delivering its 200 millionth shoebox. For thirty years, the Christian humanitarian aid organization has been collecting shoebox gifts from partner countries worldwide and giving these presents to children in need. The agency will be sending more than 10.5 million shoe box gifts this year.
Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham flew to Ukraine on January 25 to celebrate this milestone event. It’s been nearly a year since the invasion of the war-torn country where the organization has been providing emergency food, medical care, and relief supplies. Together with these supplies were dozens of shoebox gifts, including the 200 millionth. Each box is packed with small toys, school supplies and hygiene items. The Christian charity will distribute more than 400,000 shoebox gifts throughout Ukraine within the year.
I can’t control the politics, but I can control who I help, and we help whoever God puts in front of us. —Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse President
Graham greeted the 75 children who were gathered in one of Samaritan’s Purse’s partner churches. With the turmoil the children and their families are facing, he reminded them of God’s love. “Did you know that the Bible tells us that God loves us, and that everyone is special to Him?” he told the children. “God knows your name. He knows how many hairs that you have on your head. He knows everything about your life—and He loves you! And the Bible tells us that God loves us so much that He sent His Son from Heaven to this earth to save us.”
An 8-year-old girl named Natalya received the historic shoebox gift. “This gift is for you from God,” said Elizabeth Groff, a Ukrainian who also received her own shoebox gift as a child.
Graham said the ongoing relief efforts in Ukraine is proof of God’s power at work. Local churches in Ukraine and nearby countries are working together in helping the victims of the war.
“The need here is incredible. We’re here to deliver these shoeboxes, but also to meet with our church partners,” Graham said. “The war has destroyed so much of this country, but the churches see this as an opportunity to reach out and to help their neighbors and do it in Jesus’ Name. We have several thousand churches in Ukraine that we’ve been working with for 30 years. I can’t control the politics, but I can control who I help, and we help whoever God puts in front of us. The only hope for this world is Jesus Christ.”
Through the project Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse collects thousands of shoebox gifts to be given to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease. The agency picked up more than 250,000 shoebox gifts in the U.K. Supporters voted on the selection of gifts to be included in the box and chose a wind-up flashlight in the shape of a duck, reports Premier Christian News.
In Canada, more than 400,000 shoeboxes were collected, an increase of more than 1,000 gifts in 2021’s total. The shoeboxes will be given to children in Ukraine, Philippines, Central America and western Africa.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of Canadians,” said Kendra Shields, director of Operation Christmas Child. “Thousands of Canadians are taking advantage of Operation Christmas Child’s internet option that enables them to pack shoeboxes year-round at PackaBox.ca. Canadians can choose shoebox gift items while also uploading personal notes and photos,” she explained.