The gift geeked Young so much she tried putting all of the hairclips in her closely shorn hair.
Dream comes true
"I could not believe my dream came true after so many years," said Young, who spoke recently at Crossroads Church in Rockford, an OCC drop off site the last 10 years. Young's local speaking tour included stops at Rockford Christian, The Potter's House, and in Zeeland. "The excitement within us was so powerful we could not control our bodies. Everybody had a sox for themselves."
Young received her shoebox gift in 1999 when she was 12 years old from Samaritan's Purse International Relief, a nondenominational evangelical humanitarian aid organization founded in 1970 by Bob Pierce and headed today by Franklin Graham.
In 1990, the ministry launched Operation Christmas Child whereby in November thousands of churches, groups and individuals collect shoeboxes and fill them with toys, school supplies, personal items and Bible lessons and then distribute them to children around the world based on need alone. In 2015, more than 124 million boxes were delivered.
Delivered to children like Livia Young.
Now 29 years old, Young was two when her mother admitted her to the orphanage where she lived for the next 10 years.
'Peach fuzz' bread, no love
The orphanage was devoid of clean water for baths, said Young. She was forced to share a toothbrush with other children and eat stale bread with "peach fuzz" on it.
She discovered Christ's love for her through Connie Satterfield, an American missionary who personally handed Young her shoebox.
"What really changed my life was this shoebox," said Young, who immigrated to the United States in 2001, has been married for two years to husband Michael, and works for Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, Ga.
'Greatest news of all'
"I got to hear the Gospel for the first time. I heard for the first time the greatest news of all which was I finally got an answer to why I was doing all these religious rituals like saying the Lord's Prayer, making the sign of the cross and kissing icons. We would kiss picture of Jesus on the cross but it was never explained to us why he was on the cross. The mission team was at the orphanage to explain why Jesus was on the cross.
"I could not believe Jesus loved me so much that He died for me on the cross."
Young said she is a flesh-and-blood example of how OCC's shoeboxes can change children's lives for eternity.
"One more box is one more gospel opportunity and one more child gets to be saved," said Young.