Former Orphan Helps Change the Lives of Orphans and Other Needy Children Worldwide
Abandoned as a Child, Teen Joins Same Effort that Brought Her Hope Years Ago In a Russian Orphanage—Through a Simple Shoe Box Gift
ST. LOUIS, June 17, 2008—Tanya Poteet spent her early childhood in a Russian orphanage and never thought her life would amount to anything. Now 18 years old, she is part of a loving family here in the United States and a recent high school graduate who plans to dedicate her life to helping others. Tanya says the hope she felt after receiving a simple shoe box gift in her orphanage is what inspired her to keep faith and not give up.
"I was abused and abandoned by my parents when I was eight years old," said Tanya. "There just wasn't much to live for. Then one Christmas I received a shoe box full of toys, candy and crayons. It was the first present I had ever received. It was awesome to think that someone out there actually cared about me."
On August 5-15, Tanya will go to Quito, Ecuador and surround areas as part of a summer missions group sponsored by the kids-helping-kids project Operation Christmas Child. Determined to help the same organization that gave her hope so many years ago, Tanya will join other teens as they hand-deliver shoe box gifts to poverty-stricken children in Ecuador-including orphans.
"I know the importance of receiving something small, but so meaningful-to think no one cares for you and then receive a box full of surprises from a stranger who really does care," said Tanya. "Now, it is my turn to share Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts with kids in need-and encourage others around me to do the same."
A project of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child begins with a simple shoe box filled with toys, necessity items, school supplies, candy and a letter of encouragement. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child-the world's largest Christmas project-has hand-delivered more than 61 million shoe box gifts to needy youngsters in some 90 countries who are suffering because of natural disaster, disease, war, terrorism, famine and poverty.
Tanya is just one of millions of people across the United States who has begun working hard now to make a difference in the lives of hurting children around the world. Why help now-months before the holiday season? Operation Christmas Child is not limited to just a few weeks a year. Although National Collection Week is Nov. 17-24, it is a year-round project, requiring months of organization and preparation to reach millions of kids around the world
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child and make a difference in the lives of children like Tanya, call (800) 353-5949 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.