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“We had just been doing the Operation Christmas Child boxes,” Grace said a day after the visit. “And we had been watching videos on Full Circle speakers and so I thought it would be cool if Franklin Graham or a Full Circle speaker could come down here and share more about it.”

Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, is the president of Samaritan’s Purse.

Grace said later that she packed three boxes — two for school, one for her church, Darlington Presbyterian — this year. She said she included a shirt, soap, hair clips, a hair brush, a stuffed animal for a younger child, and, maybe, a book for an older child.

She did not know that the hair clips could have such an effect on children who receive the boxes until Creek spoke to the school.

Creek was born in an isolated Russian village but spent time in an orphanage after her mother abandoned the family and her husband went to jail. While at the orphanage she received one of the boxes but was told to disregard the religious message of those delivering the boxes.

The Soviet Union, except during World War II, was officially atheist for its existence and various religious practices were discouraged during the 70 years the communists controlled Russia.

The Soviets borrowed their ideas on religion from communism organizer Karl Marx, who viewed religion as getting in the way of people seeing the class structure that Marx wanted them to rebel against.