Operation Christmas Child
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Sep 02, 2011 | 2029 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SHOE BOX RECIPIENT Livia Satterfield stands with the president of Life Care Centers of America, Beecher Hunter, after sharing her story of how an operation Christmas Child gift changed her life. Banner photo, JOYANNA WEBER
SHOE BOX RECIPIENT Livia Satterfield stands with the president of Life Care Centers of America, Beecher Hunter, after sharing her story of how an operation Christmas Child gift changed her life. Banner photo, JOYANNA WEBER
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Operation Christmas Child beneficiary Livia Satterfield shared her story of the “miracles” that her donated shoe box contained during the annual kickoff of the Operation Christmas Child campaign at Life Care Centers of America Thursday evening.

She said the boxes had many basic necessities in them, but, in a larger sense, also contained love.

While living in an orphanage in Romania, Satterfield had to wear the same clothes every day for a week. Food and hygiene items were also limited.

Gifts, such as bicycles, given to the orphans were taken by the workers, she said.

“We did not get to keep our gifts and we didn’t celebrate our birthdays,” Satterfield said. “I had no idea what a birthday is.”

Love was nonexistent.

“One thing we all had in common was the absence of being loved,” Satterfield said. “We did not know how to share love. ... We had no idea.”

Oftentimes, the orphans were jealous and hated each other.

Speaking of her time at the facility she said, “Anytime that we hear that people from other countries are coming to our orphanage, we get very excited because they are the only ones who will talk to us.”

Their excitement reached a new level the day the Americans came.

“Now, when we hear Americans coming to our orphanage, it’s like Elvis Presley coming to your town. ... It was like heaven coming down for us,” Satterfield said.

Satterfield said she followed one American named Connie the entire time they were there.

The Americans were a group of Operation Christmas Child volunteers delivering shoe boxes full of things the children really needed. Hygiene items such as soap and toothpaste got them excited.

But, the boxes also contained things the children had only dreamed of owning.

There were two things Satterfield wanted— hair clips and a family.

Satterfield said she sat next to Connie and opened her box. There on the very top was a package of hair clips.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said.

Satterfield said she was so excited that she opened the package and put all of the clips in her hair.

“It was just awesome,” Satterfield said.

The Americans explained that people in other countries had packed the boxes full of love and prayer. The Americans also told the children about God’s love for them.

“The shoe box literally transformed our place,” Satterfield said. “It literally transformed the way we thought about each other— we were kind to each other, we were sharing what we had in our shoe boxes. ... It was such a true joy we have ever, ever experienced in our life.”

(The children were also allowed to keep all of the gifts in the shoe boxes. Satterfield said it was because the workers had no interest in the items inside.)

As a result of this event, Satterfield said she came to know Jesus as her personal Savior.

The miracles in her life were just beginning.

The American Satterfield called “my Connie” did not forget about the little girl in Romania. She went home and worked for two years to be able to adopt her.

“My dream did not just come true; it became reality,” Satterfield said.

If the process had taken even one day longer, she could not have been adopted. The day after Satterfield left, international adoptions from Romania were stopped, and have not been reopened since.

Satterfield said she has become a “full-circle person” as she travels telling her story. She also went on a trip to Costa Rica in 2004 with Operation Christmas Child to hand deliver her shoe box.

Every year, the Cleveland community packs and collects thousands of shoe boxes. Last year, this community collected 42,000 boxes, according to Beecher Hunter, Life Care Centers of America president. The boxes are filled with hygiene items, toys, candy and other items children enjoy. For details on how to pack a shoe box, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

Individuals also have the option to include a personal letter and photo for the child. Satterfield said this is an important part of the effort that shows the children someone loves them.

National Collection Week is Nov. 14-18. Numerous locations will serve as collection points. For locations visit, www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.