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Good Shepherd Ministries holds Operation Christmas Child event

Shoe box gifts recipient what receiving one meant to him

September 25, 2012
  • Valery Bianco, left, a shoe box recipient as a child in an orphanage, is shown with Mesfin Abera, mid-Atlantic region manager for Operation Christmas Child. They spoke Saturday night at Good Shepherd Ministries on Longmeadow Road in Hagerstown.
Submitted photo

Valery Bianco, 18, enjoys packing shoe box gifts with his family every year for Operation Christmas Child.

However, several years ago his life was very different.

Bianco grew up in an orphanage in Russia. 

“As an orphan, I felt abandoned and hopeless because no one cared for me or encouraged me,” he said.

When he was about 10 years old, he received something special that changed his life — a gift-filled shoe box.

“When I received the shoe box gift, I remember feeling so happy that someone in the world loved me,” he said. “It gave me hope and a sense of worthiness. I had never received anything like it.”

Four years later, he was adopted by an American family and lives in the Chicago area.

Saturday night, Bianco joined Mesfin Abera, mid-Atlantic region manager for Operation Christmas Child, at Good Shepherd Ministries on Longmeadow Road in Hagerstown. 

Abera told the invited crowd how the organization is an international Christian relief effort headed by Franklin Graham. It collects gift-filled shoe boxes and delivers them in the name of Jesus Christ to children living in desperate situations around the world. 

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In 2011, more than six million shoe boxes were collected in the United States and more than 8.6 million shoe boxes were collected internationally. 

The shoe boxes were sent to 105 countries.

Items in the shoe boxes consist of school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy, small toys, stuffed animals and clothing. 

In addition to Good Shepherd Ministries, many churches and organizations in the Tri-State area pack shoe boxes to send, as well as work in processing centers around the U.S. to prepare the boxes for overseas shipping. 

For more information, call 301-223-6626 or go to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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