DOTHAN, AL (WTVY) Nadia Karnatova knows how life-changing one of these simple shoeboxes can be.
“Operation Christmas Child is a way to show God’s love,” said Karnatova.
She was given one of these as a nine year old living in Ukraine.
“In my shoebox, I got a Barbie doll and that was really special for me because growing up we didn’t have any toys."
Karnatova now speaks to groups like this one at Dothan First Baptist Church on the benefits the shoeboxes bring to children in 150 countries.
"It's a tool that we use to tell little children who have probably never heard of God's love that Jesus loves them," said Karnatova. "We not only talk about it, but we also demonstrate it by giving them a gift. That allows them to experience God's love."
Each year, shoeboxes are packed with items like school supplies and toys. Last year, Dothan volunteers collected more than 30,000 gift-filled boxes to send to children overseas. Many of those children face challenges like poverty, war, disease and famine.
Cindy Harris, area coordinator, says it takes a team effort when it comes to distributing the shoeboxes.
“They are put on ships and sent to the other side of the world to a volunteer team in that county that’s waiting to receive them and then they distribute them to the local pastors and missionaries and ministers who actually host the distribution,” said Harris.
She and Karnatova say the shoeboxes do more than just spread Christmas cheer.
“Not only you experience Gods love, but you are showing God’s love to those who don’t know about God,” said Karnatova.
“The shoebox is fun, but what comes out of that shoebox could be eternal,” said Harris.
Operation Christmas Child’s National shoebox collection week is November 13-20. If you’d like to get involved, visit the Samaritan's Purse website: samaritanspurse.org/occ