Operation Christmas Child: Preschoolers pack gifts for the holidays

Even though it's still three months away, one valley school is already talking about Christmas -- and for a good reason!

On Friday, children at Promiseland Preschool had a special visit from Operation Christmas Child, an organization that collects shoe boxes full of gifts to send to countries in conflict. They even met a recipient of one of those boxes.

To most of these preschoolers, Ukraine is just a splotch on a map, but to Elvina Arventi, it's home.

"The little country of Ukraine, is right over here, the pink, can you see it? That's where I was born," she said to the children.

And to most of the preschoolers, chewing gum is just a snack, but to Elvina, it was her favorite Christmas gift.

"Before going to sleep, I would stick it to the headboard of my bed, and next morning I was waking up and chewing that gum again," she said.

A gift -- given to her years ago by preschoolers like them -- as part of Operation Christmas Child.

Every year, thousands of shoe boxes filled with toys, candy and school supplies are packed carefully with tiny hands -- in hopes to make another child's Christmas as memorable as Elvina's.

"I ran to my room, opened it up, put it upside down and I started going through all the stuff that someone sent to me," she said.

And even if these preschoolers don't quite understand the impact of their involvement, there's one part of Elvina's story they can already relate to.

"I prayed for heaven that little toy that I didn't have to share with my brothers and sisters," she said.

Elvina now works for Operation Christmas Child. Since 1993, the organization has delivered boxes to more than 124 million children -- the greater Phoenix area is expected to contribute 60,000 shoe boxes this year.

Online: www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child