Hays residents will welcome Elena Hagemeier as she recounts how hope arrived in the form of a gift-filled shoebox when she was living in an orphanage in the former Soviet Union at age eight. Hagemeier will speak to community members from the surrounding area as they prepare for the upcoming collection season of the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child.
Hagemeier will be at Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main St., Hays on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4:30 p.m. to tell her story.
Over the past five years, Messiah Lutheran has increased their shoebox collection total from 620 to over 3,000. Hagemeier encourages Hays residents to fill shoebox gifts of their own— with school supplies, hygiene items, notes of encouragement and fun toys,—to reach the global goal of impacting 12 million children.
Last year, northwest Kansas collected 5,800 shoebox gifts, and this year the goal is more than 6,400 gift-filled shoeboxes.
Hagemeier was 8 years old when she and her sister were moved from an abusive poverty-stricken home into an orphanage in the former Soviet Union. At a time when she was feeling unloved, she was handed an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift. It was the first gift she had ever received.
During Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week Nov. 13 – 20, Hays residents can drop off gift-filled shoeboxes at multiple locations across northwest Kansas.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or to view gift suggestions, visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.
Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 146 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
For more information contact Pam Schmidtberger at 785-735-2640 or Rachel Albin at 785-639-1325.