Operation Christmas Child was organized in many European countries during the war in BiH. Within the campaign, different gifts were donated to children in BiH, packed in shoeboxes decorated with paper. These gifts were packed and sent by children from Europe to children in BiH.
The gifts were delivered by trucks and usually arrived in January and February, sometimes even before the New Year. Tired and pale children faces would then lighten up. They would run home, carrying the gift in their hands.
Humanitarian Organization Samartian’s Purse launched the Operation Christmas Child in 1993. The war was raging in BiH and Franklin Graham decided to help as much as he could, together with his volunteers. These hardworking people worked day and night, collected toys, school supplies, clothes and hygienic supplies in order to pack as many gifts as possible in shoeboxes and send them to BiH.
“Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child delivered 2.1 million shoebox gift packages to BiH. In 1993, 28.000 packages were sent,” stated the organization Samartian’s Purse.
The war ended and many of those who were children then are who are adults now still keep some of the gifts they received, or at least gift cards from children who sent them gifts. BBC recently published an article about how this campaign connected good people from Wales with a Bosnian family who received a gift 22 years ago.
Many of those who received gifts now live outside of BiH and participate in the implementation of this project now. One of them is Lejla Allison, whose emotional story was told by the Office of Samartian’s Purse in Canada. Lejla lived in the settlement Dubrave near Tuzla. During the war, she was starving and her family had nothing. Her mother forced her to go to school but she did not want to go because she was embarrassed. Namely, her sneakers were all thorn up. When she came to school, she saw children gathered in one room and receiving a shoebox, wrapped in decorative paper. Legal also got one, and when she opened the boy she saw new sneakers.
Today, Lejla is married to an American with whom she has two children and she is a spokesperson of the Operation Christmas Child. She prepares gifts which must have shoes in them.
“Now my children work on packing gifts, too. I am thankful to God for this opportunity. My children have what to wear, they are safe, and they will never go to bed hungry,” Lejla said.
After the war in BiH ended, gifts arrived to many other addresses across the globe. Samartian’s Purse stated that they send gifts to 100 countries every year.
Over the past few years, many other humanitarian organizations whose members are people from BiH also make such gifts and share them with children. Although the war is over, they did not forget the little people who live in difficult economic situation, so they send dozens of packages to BiH children as well, every year.