Creating a joyful Christmas for children

First Posted: 11/17/2014

TRUCKSVILLE — Cross Creek Community Church served as a collection site last week for Operation Christmas Child. Simple red and green boxes arrived at the church destined to make the lives of children throughout the world a bit brighter during the holiday season.

The effort, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, benefits children around the world, providing them with both necessities such as toothpaste, shampoos and personal care items and “extras” such as stuffed animals, hairbands and toy cars. Area residents who have carefully filled the boxes take them to their home churches or directly to Cross Creek. They are encouraged to provide a positive personal note and to pray for the young people who will receive them.

Last year, 1,673 boxes went out from the church on Carverton Road in Trucksville. Globally, nearly 10 million gift-filled boxes reach the hands of needy children in 113 countries. Each box was accompanied by information about the Gospel message.

“We want to touch the local and global community with the love of Christ,” said Communications Director Dan Martin. “We are a church that truly cares.”

“Whenever there is a need among our members, the church body is quick to reach out and help,” said Martin. “This project allows us to bring our generous spirit to reach the world.”

Martin is especially proud of the church’s youth group members who lent their time and effort to the project.

He said even the youngest of the church’s members seems to take special joy in knowing a carefully-selected item in the box might bring a smile to a child’s face halfway around the world.

Laura Sarnak, coordinator of the event, emphasized the geographical scope of the project.

“We have seen photos of the boxes being delivered by elephant to those in third-world countries,” she said.

Many of the boxes’ recipients have never received a gift before in their lives. One Russian recipient couldn’t quite grasp that all the items in the box were hers. Now, 10 years after receiving a box, she still treasures a barrette contained in it,the first personal item she ever owned.

Martin said the Operation Christmas Child project reflects the church’s commitment to helping those in need. Such church events as “Mitten Tree” night, a collection of hats scarves and gloves for those who might otherwise be cold and a collection of food items for Thanksgiving, allow the church to fulfill its Biblical mission of spiritually and pragmatically benefiting the community.

Collection week, a busy one for the church, meant area residents bringing filled boxes (accompanied by a $7 processing fee) to the church amid holiday decoration and spirit. Martin oversaw their transport to a regional center where the items and messages they carry will begin their journey to small hands and hearts all over the globe.

“In helping others, we are ourselves blessed,” said Martin. “We collected about 2,000 boxes this year and will continue the effort in future years.”

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