LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Buying Christmas presents for strangers probably isn't at the top of the to-do list for a lot of people.
But, every year thousands of people across the world come together to pack boxes full of presents, socks, toothbrushes, hygiene items and other miscellaneous items to give to children who would not typically get Christmas presents.
"No one ever became poor by giving," said Vladimir Prokhnevskiy, a man who received a box as a child.
Operation Christmas Child boxes hold a special place in Prokhnevskiy's heart. As a child growing up in Kiev, Ukraine, Prokhnevskiy was one of nine children. His family was persecuted for their religious beliefs and didn't have much money. The gift was a show of love Prokhnevskiy did not expect.
"Why would somebody take their time, their money and pack a shoe box for some stranger they don't even know," said Prokhnevskiy. "As an adult, that was moving."
For Prokhnevskiy, as for many children today, Christmas presents weren't really an option.
"We shared toothbrushes growing up. I would brush my teeth then my mom would wash it with hot water and soap and then give it to my brother or sister," said Prokhnevskiy. "We got to a point where we had to take turns to go outside to play because we only had so many pairs of shoes."
This year Operation Christmas Child is expecting to collect 11 million boxes worldwide and distribute them to nearly 160 countries. In Nebraska, the goal is 150,500 boxes. To participate follow this link.
For Prokhnevskiy's family, packing Operation Christmas Child boxes is now a family tradition. Said Prokhnevskiy:
"Sowing and reaping is beautiful and it always comes back."