SUGAR GROVE – Gabriel Krauss was glad to receive the shoe box gifts he received while living in a Romanian orphanage.
Those memories still were vivid for him as he packed toothpaste, a toothbrush, a Santa Claus cup and other items into a shoe box and dropped it off Sunday at the Village Bible Church in Sugar Grove as part of the worldwide Operation Christmas Child program.
“I was taken from almost a third-world country and taken to America to a good life,” said Krauss, now 18.
Operation Christmas Child, which bills itself as the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, expects this year to distribute its 100 millionth shoe box. The project began in 1993.
The shoe box gifts are hand-delivered to children in more than 130 countries. Donna Krauss of Sugar Grove and her husband have been participating in the program even before they adopted a then-7-year-old Gabriel in 2001.
“It’s a very tangible way to do something for someone you don’t know,” she said. “You can meet some physical needs and some emotional needs.”
Donna Krauss and her husband, Mark, have three other children – Eric, Wendy and Mary – and they all pack shoe boxes to be delivered to children in need. Gabriel Krauss likes to pack his own shoe box.
“He knows what it means to get a box,” she said.
Gabriel Krauss remembers the excitement upon receiving the gift box.
“We didn’t get many gifts at the orphanage,” he said. “There was a Christmas cup that had snowflakes and water in it like a snow globe. I could shake it and watch the snow fall.”