Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

A life touched by Operation Christmas Child

link Elvina Kravchuck

Staff writer

[email protected]

As a child in Ukraine, Elvina Kravchuck said she never had anything of her own.

Kravchuck had four brothers and three sisters which she had to share everything with.

When she was 7 years old, Kravchuck finally got a gift of her own, a shoebox full of goodies from Operation Christmas Child.

“I was so shocked that every family member got a box,” Kravchuck said.

She also hoped in her box would be a doll for which she had been praying. Unfortunately her box did not have a toy. Kravchuck was devastated until her mother discovered a doll in her younger brother’s box, which her mother gave to her.

“For me it was a miracle,” Kravchuck said.

Kravchuck, 26, will be in Clovis at 6 p.m. Sunday at Parkland Baptist Church to discuss her work with Operation Christmas Child and the affect it had on her.

Describe your childhood in the Ukraine.

I grew up in very different conditions in comparison to here in the states. We were very poor and my dad had hard time finding a steady job. He sometimes just worked for $1 a day.

Even at some jobs he had, he was not even paid money, but was paid in a voucher which could only be used once at a store.

My parents would have stand in line for hours to get into a shop, but the time they got there, the store was pretty much empty. My dad would come home with whatever they had and it was sometimes things we didn’t need.

I remember he would bring home a bag of sugar and once he came home with a big bag of meat, but we had no bread to eat it with.

When I was 4 or 5, I worked out in our field at our house. We had vegetables to pick, which helped us. I hated the middle of winter as we were almost out of vegetables and I would go to bed hungry.

The only time we ever had big meals were during holidays like Christmas and I remember for my birthday one year I had apple pie for a cake, because in July we had many apples to eat.

What impact did the shoebox have on you?

I remember seeing the people bring us the boxes, coming door-to-door in our village delivering gifts.

It was very cold as I took my box without choosing any box and just running to the house to open it.

I hoped I would have a doll, but I didn’t have one, but one of my sisters had one. I was very sad, but I found out later that my little brother, he was only 2, had a doll in his box and I got it. It was very special to me as it answered my prayers.

Sometimes during my life when I went through a hard time, I always thought about my box and about how happy it made me feel. It gave me hope and had me put more trust in God and Jesus. It was really special to me.

What was your favorite gift you received?

I loved my doll, but I always remember getting gum.

I have never chewed gum in my life and I was so fascinated with a piece of food that never dissolves in your mouth. It was so interesting to me. I would chew one piece of gum for hours, and when it got hard I would put it under warm water to soften up again.

I also remember the hard candy. I would just lick my candy once then put it back into the wrapper, because I wanted it to last longer than my brothers’ or sisters’.

How did you get to the United States?

My father had been going around different cities in Ukraine looking for jobs, and he went to Russia too and finally he found a job opportunity in the United States.

He took it and he wanted us to come as well and live here. He had to go through the process of citizenship and it took him eight years. So we were apart for eight years until we got to California.

One of my brothers and one of my sisters stayed in Ukraine as they were already married.

I recently saw them, but my father has not seen them in 14 years. It has been hard on him.

How did you find out about Operation Christmas Child and why did you start volunteering?

Well I never knew where it (shoebox) came from.

I always thought about that box and how much hope and happiness it gave me.

So I was invited to a community church in Fresno (California) in 2011. I had a hard time understanding the sermon, but I saw the shoeboxes. I got very excited and started to find out about the program.

I Googled the program and found a volunteer form and filled it out. I was really excited and I wanted to do more. I told them I was a recipient of the boxes and then they asked me to speak in English in front of crowds. I never thought that would happen, but I also volunteer in Fresno making my own boxes.

I really like it as I know what the child is feeling as they open their box. Every time I make a box, I think about how I felt and I have very sweet memories.

Have you even been to New Mexico before?

This is the first time I have ever been to the New Mexico and Texas area.

I’m really excited, but when I found out I was going to Clovis, I thought the name was familiar. My first home in this country was Clovis, California, and it really just sounds like home.

I think Clovis will be like home and I excited to see it and to meet new people.