A shoebox recipient’s account of how a simple
gift made an eternal impact
I’ve never met my birth mother. People at the orphanage told me that she brought me there when I was a few months old. At the orphanage in Guatemala, the caretakers provided for our basic needs. They taught us, fed us, and clothed us, but their limited resources meant that we ate a steady diet of rice and beans and wore whatever clothes were available, no matter what the size. I don’t remember us having any combs or brushes. We did have a toothbrush—one toothbrush for 10 girls. We shared it, like we shared everything else. That’s why I was so excited when we each received our own Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift.
My favorite thing I received in my box was a toothbrush of my very own. I got a lot of use out of it. It was a prized possession. To this day when I pack shoebox gifts, I don’t just include one toothbrush—I pack at least four of them in each box! That way, the children can use them for a long time, or have enough of them to give to their friends or family members.
I had heard about Jesus at the orphanage. When we had received our shoeboxes, we learned the song, “Jesus loves me.” But it wasn’t until later that I truly knew who He is and that Jesus really does love me. A year after I received my shoebox, I was adopted by a couple from the U.S. My parents took me to church and, within the year, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
I still love the song, “Jesus loves me.” I love to sing—I’m on the worship team at church. I’m also a nanny, so I get to teach the song to the kids.
I get to help the children at my church pack shoeboxes. I explain how important basic items like paper and pencils are to a child who doesn’t have them. They’re amazed that I had to share a tooth-brush—they couldn’t imagine having to share things like that. But they grasp at an early age what it is to give to others.
I hope that my story will make a difference in other children’s lives—both those who pack shoeboxes and those who receive them. I’m so thankful that someone took the time to pack one for me.
*This is one of many “Shoebox Stories” that can be found at samaritanspurse.org.