Mission of Hope: Delivering the 200 Millionth Shoebox to Ukraine

27th February 2023

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Samaritan’s Purse collected its 200 millionth Operation Christmas Child shoebox this year. This milestone gift was hand-delivered to an orphan in Ukraine by Elizabeth Groff, who also received a shoebox gift as a little girl living in a Ukrainian orphanage. Join them on this journey of bringing joy and the hope of the Gospel to children in conflict-weary Ukraine.


Meet Natalya, an orphan who received the 200 millionth shoebox.

Learn more about how Samaritan’s Purse is meeting physical and spiritual needs in Ukraine.

Show Notes

Samaritan’s Purse recently delivered the 200 millionth Operation Christmas Child shoebox to Ukraine. This symbolic shoebox was packed with love and prayer by literally thousands of people around the world. Supporters in Canada, Germany, Korea, and other countries voted on social media to choose items to pack in this shoebox. Elizabeth Groff, whose life was changed when she received a gift-filled shoebox, then traveled across the United States stopping at local churches and Samaritan’s Purse ministry centers to place specially selected items inside.

Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, and Elizabeth Groff traveled to Ukraine to hand-deliver this important shoebox to a little girl in need. In this episode, Kristy Graham takes listeners on the trip.

Melissa, one of our podcast correspondents, asked Elizabeth what it felt like to be traveling back to her home country for the first time in years.

“I’m nervous about what I’m going to see. I’ve seen a lot on the news—the suffering that’s going on in Ukraine. But I’m really just praying that through all that suffering God will show me the beautiful things He is doing—how He is growing the church, how He is working through the people through their hearts and how people are sharing the Gospel through their sorrow and through their hurt.” – Elizabeth Groff

Before passing out shoebox gifts, a pastor in Ukraine shared how these gifts are opening doors for them to minister to boys and girls. Millions of children were forced to flee as a result of the conflict. They left home with nothing but the clothes on their backs and maybe a few items that could be carried in a backpack. Parents are focused on surviving, and they often can’t spare money for luxuries like toys. Through shoebox gifts joy is being restored as children get to play again.

The shoebox distributions in Ukraine brought back memories for Elizabeth as she recounts the day that she received her gift and heard the Gospel as a little girl.

Next, Jim Harrelson, vice president of Operation Christmas Child, expresses overwhelming gratitude for what the Lord has done through 30 years of shoebox distributions. He even remembers his very first distribution in Bosnia, and the gratefulness of a 9-year-old girl whose story is still prominent in his mind decades later.

“What an honor. There’s no higher calling than to share Jesus with the lost, especially the children.” – Jim Harrelson

Franklin Graham shared the Gospel at the outreach event just before the 200 millionth shoebox and many like it were given to the children. He said that he could have never imagined how God would use the power of a simple gift to open doors for the Gospel.

“We want the children of the world to know that Christ can come into their hearts and change their little hearts. If they put their faith and trust in Him, they can have that hope— knowing that one day they’ll have a home in heaven with Him.” – Franklin Graham

Then Elizabeth had the chance to hand out the 200 millionth shoebox to Natalya, an orphan just like Elizabeth was many years ago. Natalya’s favorite item was a bright yellow wind-up flashlight.

“She was so cute, and I helped her open her box and for a second there, it seemed like she forgot about her circumstances and where she was. I felt like for a second she could be a child again and just experience joy and love and care that was all around her.” – Elizabeth Groff

We pray that this shoebox and the millions more that will be distributed around the world this year will continue to bring joy and hope to children. Most importantly, we pray that children will come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.

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