JOPLIN, MO.--- "Nothing to eat, we had nothing on our beds. No sheets," states Elena Hagemeier, Spokesperson.
Elena Hagemeier was born into a poor family in northwest Russia.
"Having, my parents, they were drunks, you know, alcoholics," states Elena.
She was taken away from her parents and placed into 2 separate Russian orphanages. There she received a shoe box filled with small toys and personal hygiene items from Operation Christmas Child, and it changed her life.
"Receiving a small shoe box from a person you never knew, and you think they had to put off their time, you know, just to pack up a shoe box. So just thinking that it was like feeling love for the first time," states Elena.
Stories like Elena's are prompting some volunteers to get involved with Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.
"It's been a blessing for me, I love the Lord and I love to serve the Lord and I think this is an incredible opportunity," states Della Bergen, Collection Center Coordinator.
Elena is now a 20 year old student at Ozark Christian College and continues to give back to the organization that helped her so many years ago.
"2011, I got the chance to go to Uganda and deliver the shoe boxes with Operation Christmas Child, and that was just amazing. I mean just seeing the faces light up," states Elena.
If you would like to help, stop by Forest Park Baptist Church located at 7th and Range Line with a shoe box filled with toys, tools, and necessities. Volunteers will be collecting complete shoe boxes through Monday, November 19th at 5 p.m. Local volunteers hope to send more than 13,000 shoe boxes to children overseas. To view their website, click here.