Operation Christmas Love boxes are full of food, treats, and essentials, as well as a booklet explaining the reason why we celebrate Christmas: the birth of Jesus.
Mission Without Borders’ goal is to distribute 42,000+ of these boxes this Christmas season, across the six poorest countries in Eastern Europe, making it possible for families and elderly people to know they are loved and not forgotten over the festive season.
SO MUCH DELIGHT
Elena and her husband Florin live in a two-room apartment in Victoria, Romania, with their five children, that once belonged to Florin’s late parents.
Their living conditions are far from what they need. When they first moved into the apartment several years ago, it didn’t even have windows. Many apartment blocks in Romania are poor quality, built during the Communist era, and in need of serious renovation to their infrastructure, heating systems and roofs.
“We had to use plastic wrap to cover our windows when we first moved in; the mold was everywhere.”
Elena said, “I remember that we didn’t have anything. The apartment was empty. I used to go around begging people and churches for furniture and things like pots and plates.”
The apartment lacks hot water and central heating, and the family uses a small gas stove or an electric heater to warm the place up. Elena shares the bigger room with all the children and Florin uses the small room. Their bathroom door often gets stuck and opens only by being kicked. The whole place needs to be thoroughly refurbished.
Elena said, “We’ll probably have to move out of here pretty soon, as Florin has 13 other siblings and there are many conflicts about who should have the apartment.”
As Christmas approaches, the winter season is challenging for families living in poverty such as Elena’s. Less work is available and heating costs go up. Elena’s family usually celebrates in simple ways: visiting family, and caroling from house to house, as is Romanian tradition.
Elena’s Christmas menu is not fancy, but she tries to include the children’s favourites: tripe soup, meat ball soup, French fries and corn bread. However, food and necessities are getting more and more difficult to afford. While Elena stays home caring for the children, Florin works in construction, but what he earns barely covers the family’s basic needs.
Fortunately, the family is enrolled in Mission Without Borders’ family sponsorship program. As a result, they now receive regular support in many areas of their lives – and at Christmas time, that means Operation Christmas Love.
For Elena, it means that her family can celebrate Christmas without worrying about being able to afford the food for the table and the treats.
Elena said, “The children are so happy about the sweets in the box. They love eating them and I’m sure, if possible, they would eat them all day long.”
“Everything we get from the Mission is an enormous help to us,” she added. “The food, hygiene supplies, clothes, shoes, toys, school supplies, furniture, bed linen and Christmas gifts, bring us so much delight.
“We can hardly wait to open the Operation Christmas Love boxes and see what’s inside. I get as excited as the kids do, looking through everything! We thank you and we wish you health.”
[pictured above] OCL parcels being packaged in Ukraine just a few weeks ago.