Reflections from two Operation Christmas Child Volunteers on shoebox distributions in Serbia
From by Claire Beament and Shirley Powell
I will never forget the first little boy I opened a shoebox with in Serbia. The expression on his face when he looked inside was amazing, I cannot fully describe it - it made my eyes prick with tears because his whole face lit up so much and he had the biggest smile on his face. I can honestly say that I had never seen a child look so happy before. One of the 10 year old boys told us (through an interpreter) that he was so grateful to whoever made the box and that this was his first gift ever.
Our second distribution was at refugee homes. The buildings were originally set up as temporary accommodation in 1999, yet people were still living there. We went into one building that looked like university halls; one long corridor with ten doors. Each door led to a room. We spoke to one lady who lived in a room with her 7 children, and she told us that this was the seventh place she had lived in since leaving Kosovo. She started to get very upset, but when asked what impact the shoeboxes had on her and her family her whole face lit up and she said it made her children so happy, as she would not be able to give them gifts like this.
Next we went to a massive Roma community who lived under a flyover. This is the distribution that springs to mind when anyone asks me about my trip. It was unbelievable. It looked like a shanty town – it was like a giant rubbish dump (as most of the residents make money by recycling other peoples rubbish) with shacks for houses, and no running water. It was the underworld of the city of Belgrade; you could see the flyover with expensive cars literally above you whilst standing the middle of this deprived settlement.
There was a baby girl – too young to get a box – held by her dad who just kept crying and crying. I went over to her with a cuddly toy sheep I had in my pocket and as soon as she saw the sheep she stopped crying instantly. That really upset me because something so simple to us meant so much to them.
This experience has shown me that something small can make a big difference. The shoeboxes are only a simple, small gift to us, and they give not only a child - but a whole family - a message of hope.
JOIN IN THE FUN AND PACK A SHOEBOX OR MORE AND YOU CAN IMPACT THE LIFE OF A CHILD IN THE NAME OF CHRIST!
Collections Week is Nov 12-19th!