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Episode Info

Episode Info:

We love to talk about community around the table, about fostering connection with people on our streets and in our neighborhoods. But we get really inspired when we see people take their Turquoise Table gatherings to the next level by getting together to create connection beyond their neighborhoods. That’s why we’re excited this week to share an opportunity with you on how you can easily organize a gathering that brightens the lives of children in other countries by packing simple shoeboxes full of toys and goodies. Each year, Operation Christmas Child delivers hundreds of thousands of these shoeboxes, filled by volunteers, to kids all over the world, spreading a message of love in the process. And to tell us how meaningful this little gift can be, we’re thrilled to have Yuliya Shubina and Gracie O’Laughlin from Operation Christmas Child on the show to tell us all about the program and how we can participate. Just wait until you hear Yuliya’s story—when she was 9 years old, she received a shoebox that changed her life forever. Her story shows us how a simple act of love can have a huge impact. And stay around until the end of the episode, when Kristin shares a delicious sweet-and-salty snack you can make for your own shoebox packing party!

Show Summary:Our guests today are going to help us get ready for the holidays in the best way: they're preparing our hearts for giving to little ones in need.

Gracie O'Laughlin and Yuliya Shubina work for Operation Christmas Child, an international relief organization that shares God's love with children around the world in the form of a shoebox.

At some point, maybe your family has packed a shoebox gift, whether through your school, church, or neighborhood. Today, Gracie and Yuliya are going to walk us through how to pack those shoeboxes, what to put inside, how to host a packing party at your Turquoise Table, and when and where to drop off those boxes.

And just wait, y'all, until you hear Yuliya's story. When she was nine years old, Yuliya was living in Central Asia and actually received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift with a letter from the young girl who packed the box. These shoeboxes of love really do make an impact, and Yuliya is living testament to that. I cannot wait for you to hear her story.

The Turquoise Table has been an Operation Christmas Child partner for a few years now, and it's one of our favorite things to do every year to kick off the holiday season. I am thrilled to have Gracie and Yuliya on the show today to share this wonderful work. And stick around for a super yummy Heavenly Harvest Chex Mix recipe that’s a snap to whip up for your shoebox packing party!


Links, Products, and Recipes We Mentioned:

Operation Christmas Child Gift Suggestions (and what not to pack)

Turquoise Table Blog Post: “How to Host a Shoebox Packing Party”

Need help from an Operation Christmas Child volunteer?

Recipe: Heavenly Harvest Chex Mix

Interview Quotes:“God, we know, doesn't waste any seasons in any of our lives ”

– Yuliya Shubina, Operation Christmas Child


“I remember [my stuffed puppy dog in my OCC shoebox] was the nicest toy that my sister and I have ever owned. And so even though I didn't want to, I had to share this puppy dog with my sister, also with my cousins. This puppy would travel to their house, stay with them a week or two at a time. They would play with it, and then we would get it back—not to mention, all of the neighbor kids who also got their turn playing and petting this puppy dog.”

– Yuliya Shubina, Operation Christmas Child


“The most important item [in my shoebox], actually, wasn't a puppy dog. It was the letter from the girl who packed it for me. . . . She wrote, ‘I am praying for you. God loves you.’ And I remember reading and translating that very simple letter, and getting to these last two sentences and just wondering why would a stranger, who has never met me, who lives all the way across the world from me, who doesn't know me, would not only bless me with a beautiful shoebox gift that is packed with so many wonderful items, but also tells me there is God out there who loves and cares for me and that she is praying to this God on my behalf. ”

– Yuliya Shubina, Operation Christmas Child


“I will never forget the feelings that those words left in my heart. I remember carrying that sentence with me for years and continuing to wonder, Who is this God that she's praying to. And once again, why would a stranger do something like that?”

– Yuliya Shubina, Operation Christmas Child


“There's just something so approachable about the simplicity of this. . . . When we just show up and do something so simple, it allows God to do what only God can do. That's the beauty of it.”

– Kristin Schell


“It's fun to pack fun items such as toys, school supplies, hygiene items in the shoeboxes, but that's not the most important part about this ministry. The most important part is prayer that we packed the shoeboxes with.”

– Yuliya Shubina, Operation Christmas Child


“There are millions of stories that we have heard. The most surprising for me is when a child has been praying for a very specific item, a child or a family praying for a very specific item, and then that item shows up in a shoebox. ”

– Gracie O’Laughlin, Operation Christmas Child


Connect with Operation Christmas Child:



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