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children running with shoebox gifts


Many shoebox gifts packed in the UK are now bringing joy to children living in Serbia!



Southeastern Europe, between Macedonia and Hungary


6,693,375, with 14% under the age of 15 (source – CIA The World Factbook)



We thank God for the thousands of children that have received shoeboxes here since Operation Christmas Child began distributions. While we are not able to provide pictures or information on the specific child who received your individual shoebox, we hope you will be inspired by the photos and stories below.

Children Receiving Shoebox Gifts In Serbia

Stories From Serbia

Ivana’s Shoebox

"Hello, my name is Ivana. I am sharing my story as I believe it can encourage some people. Many years ago, at the orphanage I grew up in, a woman came and brought us gifts in a box. It was the first time we saw such gifts. They were very decorated and beautiful and full many things. Inside was a letter from a family in England. It was a wonderful feeling that someone from afar was thinking of us other children in not so nice surroundings and conditions. An orphanage is a place where no child should be. The people working there gave their best and I thank them, but growing up without parents is hard. The shoebox gift led me to meet my saviour Jesus Christ and even after 25 years and I continue to follow Him and pass this on to my children. I teach them to share, to give, to give gifts and to be friends to those who need it. We thank you because year after year you continue to make many children of this world happy, including me."

Reaching Out To Their Community

One partner from a small Baptist Church shared how Operation Christmas Child had ‘opened many doors’ in their community. They visited orphanages, schools and local families, many of whom were living in poverty. "We distributed 300 shoebox gifts which brought great joy and delight to the children. Many families first heard about God’s love through the shoebox gifts."

group of children of various ages holding shoebox gifts

From Shoebox Recipient To Church Partner

“Operation Christmas Child brought us a lot of blessings.  My wife and I, have reached out to many poor children and the gift boxes helped us to explain God's love.  We are thankful to God and Samaritan’s Purse for the gifts each year. I remember as a little boy getting an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, and it was a great delight.  I have now been a part of leading outreach events for five years.  

We also run the 12-lesson The Greatest Journey programme with children, and it is a blessing that we are able to explain our Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ, the saviour of all.  

At a home for neglected children we distributed about 50 boxes. I shared the Gospel with the children.  They listened carefully and I remember saying: “Maybe your biological parents left you, but God, your Heavenly Father will never leave you.”  It was a very emotional moment in my life, because I saw great happiness and joy when we shared the boxes and the Gospel message.”


Refugees In Serbia

Several years ago at a Centre for Asylum Seekers, Operation Christmas Child ministry partners in Serbia were given special permission to distribute shoebox gifts to refugees. On arrival, they discovered that although the refugees were from Syria, all of the children there were Afghani and only spoke Farsi. The team leader spoke to the children and their families in Serbian, and was translated into Farsi. It was heart-breaking to see the pain, sorrow, grief, uncertainty, fear, and despair in their eyes, but it was also heart-warming to see the joy, happiness, and genuine thankfulness in the children’s eyes when we opened the big brown boxes containing the colourful presents for them. The children excitedly helped the team leader open the boxes.

At this point, the language barrier disappeared and all of a sudden we all spoke with smiles, hand gestures and tearful eyes. They patiently listened to what the team leader shared with them, learning about God’s love and the hope He has for them in the midst of their despair. One girl got a big shoebox, so heavy she couldn’t carry it by herself! A volunteer helped her open it and when she saw a toy owl, she beamed with joy!


A Mother’s Thank You

“My 6-year-old son got a Christmas box today at school and he was very excited about it. I would like to say thank you for making children all over the world happy and smiling. God bless you all!”

– A delighted mother in Serbia.


School’s Shoebox Joy!

“We distributed a lot of shoeboxes and experienced many nice things. In a little village school the children sang and read poems for us. After patiently standing in line, each child received a shoebox and they all went to their class with their teachers. They let us see the children’s joy at opening the gifts. Some of those children live on the brink of poverty and this shoebox meant a lot to them. This event will always be a part of my life and the lives of our team members.”

– Local Ministry Partner


Matea’s Prayer

Matea received a shoebox gift at a local outreach event and began praying that all her friends at school would too. After three years God answered her prayers when the local Operation Christmas Child team reached her school. She was overjoyed that all the children in her class got to see the puppet show, hear about God’s love for them and receive shoebox gifts just as she had.

A Glimpse Of The Joy Your Shoebox Gifts Bring

Our Local Partners

Operation Christmas Child invests in building National Leadership Teams made up of trained local volunteers and staff within over 100 countries. These teams then work alongside many Regional Leadership Teams who in turn train local church leaders and teachers. In Serbia, four teams are working with 160 ministry partners (teams of volunteers in local churches) to make Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey possible each year!

The Greatest Journey

Each shoebox gift delivered by Operation Christmas Child is a tangible expression of God’s amazing love. But a shoebox is just the beginning. After receiving a shoebox gift, children have the opportunity to enrol in The Greatest Journey – 12 fun and interactive Bible lessons, where they get the chance to discover who Jesus is and how to begin their own journey of faith. At the end of the course they get to experience a graduation ceremony where they receive a New Testament in their own language.

The Greatest Journey is taught by local volunteers who have been trained to deliver the programme. It is offered free of charge, without obligation and with the consent of the child’s parent or guardian. 

Over 7,000 children in Serbia have enrolled in this programme since it started.

Thank You

Thank you so much for packing a shoebox gift and sending love and hope to a child in need. Your generosity makes such a difference!