[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_audio_embed][/x_audio_embed][x_text_type prefix=”Operation Christmas Child is for” strings=” your neighbours| your friends| …well…YOU” suffix=”” tag=”h3″ type_speed=”50″ start_delay=”0″ back_speed=”50″ back_delay=”3000″ loop=”false” show_cursor=”true” cursor=”|” looks_like=”h3″][cs_text]Operation Christmas Child presents an opportunity each year to be involved in giving a child what could be their very first boxed gift. With a shoebox full of specially chosen items from someone across the world who they might never meet, a child’s life is changed.

It’s one thing to understand this, but as Luke and I spoke with Luda, we came to really know it. These shoeboxes, which are a once a year event for us, create a lifetime of memories for each and every child who receives one.

Here is Luda’s story in her own words:

My name is Luda. I was born in Soviet Ukraine. In 1991, when Soviet Unioncollapsed, many people, including my family, lost all their savings. Many people have lost their jobs. Those who managed to keep their job were not paid for months and months. I remember times when my mom was paid March salaries in October. We were able to survive because we had land and could grow vegetables, fruits and grain. The only treat we would get once a month was a tin of instant cocoa drink.

Me and my siblings haven’t had brand new clothes for years. We used to wear hand-me- downs and had to look after the clothes well if we wanted to be dressed. When mum could buy us clothes, it was usually at least three sizes bigger, so we could wear it for few years. In the tallboy I shared with my siblings, I had one shelf that fit all my clothes. That is how little I had.

Between me and my siblings we had one box of toys. When I was about 11 years old, my mum bought me a cheap version of the Barbie doll. I looked after it like it was my most precious possession as I knew I will not get a new one if this one broke (no matter the excuse). I went to the toyshop few times. Shelves were full, but they had exactly the same item on every shelf every time. I think they changed them monthly. So one month there were skipping ropes on all shelves, next – soccer balls, then – hula-hoops and so on.

There were times when the only thing we would get for Christmas were homemade cookies. There never have been boxes and boxes of presents under our tree. One Christmas at church, I received green and red box. I have been told that it came from United States of America and has a special Christmas present just for me. I was very excited to open it. Inside were coloured pencils, toys, t-shirt, some sweets, personal hygiene items and a card from the person, who packed the box. One of the presents I have received was a beautiful jewellery set which I still have 17 years later. I still remember the joy and excitement of receiving that special box. It was a great blessing to me and my siblings who also received shoeboxes full of goodies. I was very grateful to the people, who spent their money to make my Christmas much happier. I still am. I treasure those memories in my heart and keep a part of the gift as a reminder that I need to help those less fortunate. When I first heard about Operation Christmas Child at Beenleigh Baptist Church, I knew I will be packing boxes for other children to spread some love and happiness. I hope I can keep doing it for as long as I live. It does not cost much to make someone feel very special.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]