BINGHAMTON. NY (WIVT/WBGH) – A woman who once received a gift from strangers that helped to change the course of her life is traveling the country to promote the charity.

Livia Young visited churches in the Oneonta area over the weekend as she thanks donors and organizers of Operation Christmas Child.

Run by Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child sends shoeboxes filled with practical items and fun treats to disadvantaged children all over the world.

Young was placed in a Romanian orphanage at age 2.

She describes a dismal existence with not a lot of food or belongings and no one to love her.

When she was 12, visitors brought shoebox gifts for the orphans.

Young says she’ll never forget the hair clips, bar soap and candy that was in her box.

“To be told how much we are loved by people all over the world, that they gave up their time, they gave up their money to pack this simple gift so that we may know how much we are loved. At 12, I’m thinking, ‘How is that possible? I don’t know who you are, you don’t know who I am. Why would you love me?'”

One of the women who brought the shoeboxes to Romania would eventually adopt Young and bring her to the US.

The boxes are constructed with a mix of hygiene products and school supplies and fun items such as candy, toys and stuffed animals.

While shoeboxes can be created year-round, the national collection week is from November 14th to the 21st.

To find a drop-off location and more information, go to and type in your zip code.

You can watch the full interview, including more about Young’s experience in the orphanage, below.