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Meet Irine: An Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Story

Irine, a longtime Hopevale member and attender, shared a story from her childhood with us. When she was 8 years old growing up in Kenya she received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

Check out her video story!

When we met with Irine to record the video, we talked together for a while. Here are some things you didn't see in the video that she shared with us!

On growing up in Kenya:

Like many families in Africa, Irine always had extended family living with her. She grew up in a large family consisting of many relatives; there were always tons of people at home.
Chicken was a delicacy growing up that would be included in a Christmas meal. Irine could count on one hand the number of times she would have something like that throughout the year.

On things that were in her Operation Christmas Child shoebox:

"There was a pack of two pairs of socks, and I was happy because they were white socks. I couldn't wait for school to begin so I could show everyone my white socks!"

On the impact that shoebox made on her life:

"I wanted to know who these people were. Some of us had the privilege to get a note in our boxes telling us who sent the box. To me that was really impressive and I wanted to know who these people were that would do that. When you grow up in a place where the little that you have is what you need, when you get something from someone who doesn't know you, someone you've never met, it causes this curiosity like why would somebody even do that? And if the reason I find that they did is because of their love for me, and also because of their love for Christ, I want to know who this Christ is and I want to be a part of it."

On her history with Hopevale Church:

Irine got involved with Hopevale through Saginaw Valley State University and our VISA group (Valley International Students Association). The VISA group came to campus and picked students up and brought them to Hopevale to worship!

On getting more people involved in Operation Christmas Child:

Irine encourages us to "post one thing, talk to one person, just mention something - that's how people get involved." She's a nurse by trade. One day a friend of hers, who also received a shoebox as a child, shared with her a video of kids in Malawi receiving shoebox gifts. Irine in turn shared that with her Facebook friends with a note about how she remembered being that child, and that she will participate in Operation Christmas Child without hesitation. The next time she was at work, a group of her coworkers asked about it, and while Irine told her story, many more of her coworkers joined the conversation and were captivated. She showed them all the video and they wanted to get involved. Irine then picked up a pile of shoeboxes from Hopevale for her coworkers. In 2015, her coworkers packed 80 shoeboxes. In 2016, they're having a competition between units and departments.

On what to include in shoeboxes:

"You don't have to spend much, my daughter and I have a target; we spend $10 per box, and we just go to the Dollar Store or Five Below. It doesn't have to be expensive stuff. These kids don't care what you send to them - the value that they see is that someone thought about them and cared to send them something they have never had."

Thank you Irine for sharing your story with us. It is so encouraging to be able to see what God does in someone’s life because of someone else’s generosity. Most of the time we don’t get to see that, but God is always up to big things; He’s always writing a beautiful story!