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children with shoebox gifts

The Balkans

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

These shoebox gifts are helping to show the love of Christ, planting seeds and building goodwill between communities of all faiths and none. However, while political and religious sensitivities continue within some parts of the Balkans, for the safety of our ministry partners living in restricted areas, we are not able to disclose details about the specific country your shoebox was sent to.

Please know that even though we are not able to disclose exactly where your shoebox gift went, we are confident that it will bring great joy and hope to the precious child receiving it, both now and for many years to come.

Your lovingly packed shoebox gifts make such a difference! We’ve shared some of our favourite videos, photos and stories from the wider Balkans region of children who received shoebox gifts just like yours.

Children Receiving Shoebox Gifts In The Balkans

Stories from the Balkans

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."

A Family Feels Loved

‘"We visited several families and spent time with each. They were amazed that children from across the world had packed shoebox gifts for them. We met a mother with four small children. The family live in poverty and were not expecting any presents for their kids. The children were so joyful when they saw the gifts. They were amazed that somebody remembered them. Receiving the gifts made them feel special and important. As well as toys and many interesting things the boxes were full of love!’

The team were able to share the Gospel and let the families know that God cares for them and has not forgotten them."

family receiving shoebox gifts

Reaching Out to Their Community

Group of children with shoebox gifts

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’

Reaching the Hard-to-reach

At one outreach event in a remote village in the Balkans, where there was no electricity on some streets, local partners were pleased to be able to give shoebox gifts to delighted children. They were also able to share the Good News of Jesus with the children, who had only ever heard of the Bible in their history class!


The Perfect Gift

As the shoebox gifts were being handed out, one boy said he would really like a football and joked that he would also like a jersey from Brazil. Before long the boy started jumping for joy, as not only had he received a brand new football and a pump, but he also got a Brazil football shirt! The team were delighted for him and were able to share with the boy just how much God loved him and knew the desires of his heart.

A Shoebox Brings Light

This young boy walks to and from school more than 7 miles each day, sometimes even having to walk home in the dark. He recently attended an outreach event held by a local church. Here he received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift and inside he found a new torch! Now he uses it to help him walk home safely.

boy with new torch

Tears Of Joy!

"We distributed shoeboxes over two days on three different occasions for 120 children each and their parents. It was a great delight to see the joy on the children’s faces when they received their shoeboxes. For us as a church, we were particularly pleased for the opportunity to share the Gospel with local children in a child friendly way.  As a result of the outreach event, some children from the neighbourhood have started coming to our children’s programme on Sundays."


"It was also a great joy for us to distribute shoeboxes to children at a migration camp and hostel. These kids do not have a lot of toys or stuff and many of them had tears of joy in their eyes as they received the gifts packed for them."

A Dream Come True

This sweet little girl had been dreaming of owning her own doll for three years. She had seen dolls at the local market, but her mother was not able to buy one for her. She was delighted to discover a new pink doll inside her shoebox, along with many other special gifts.

little girl with new doll

Shoebox Gifts Are A Great Help To Us

“I am the leader of children’s ministries at my church. We became an Operation Christmas Child ministry partner three years ago. Operation Christmas Child brings so much joy to children here in the Balkans. Our team received 190 shoeboxes this season and distributed them from our church to local children in our town and also to a nearby village. The children’s parents were really pleased and surprised by the wonderful gifts. We thank God for putting the gift of giving into the hearts of kind people overseas.

After receiving the shoebox gifts, many children expressed interest in attending The Greatest Journey programme. We ran two classes in different locations and around 70 boys and girls took part. Some of the children’s mothers also enjoyed attending the sessions and many families now come along to church regularly. I am very encouraged to see the strengthening of our ministries and community. Samaritan’s Purse is indeed a great help to us!”

A Small Gift Can Have An Eternal Impact

Afrim is an English teacher and local ministry partner. He and his team distributed 200 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes across two schools and a nursery. The children were delighted to receive their gifts and many attended The Greatest Journey Bible study course. In 12 fun sessions the boys and girls learned about who Jesus is, how to begin their own journey of faith, and how to share what they have learned with others. The sessions also included games, crafts, and a time of prayer. Twenty-seven children completed the programme and received certificates and New Testament Bibles. Many happy parents also attended the graduation celebration event and as a result several started coming along to the church. In June 2022, twin sister graduates Samanta and Valbona were baptised, as was their mother.

Elsewhere in a small town, a pastor and some of the children at his church delivered shoebox gifts to a remote mountain village. When they invited the children back to take part in The Greatest Journey, many were keen to attend, and 48 children completed the programme and graduated. Eight children from this group are now preparing to be baptised.

*names changed

Thank You For Packing Shoebox Gifts!