Back Mountain church takes part in Operation Christmas Child

By Geri Gibbons - For Times Leader
Dave Oldziejewski and Louise Stout count the number of boxes filled with necessities and treats before preparing them to be shipped to needy children at Cross Creek Community Church in Kingston Township on Sunday. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Tina Flach places donated boxes on a table in the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Dave Rogers and Dave Oldziejewski pack boxes filled with necessities and treats into a shipping carton at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville on Sunday. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Volunteers at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville take part in Operation Christmas Child on Sunday. - - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Volunteers at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville stack filled cartons in the back of a trailer on Sunday. - - Fred Adams | For Times Leader

TRUCKSVILLE – Nearly 4000 holiday-themed shoe boxes were scheduled to leave Cross Creek Community Church on Monday, filled with necessities and treats to delight needy children around the world.

The effort is the result of a week of work by 20 volunteers and members of the community who took a box, filling it according to the Operation Christmas Child specifications.

The church on Carverton Road serves as a drop-off center for individuals and area churches during “National Collection Week,” which ran from Nov. 18 through today (Monday).

To Louise Stout, an event organizer, filling and processing the boxes is a labor of love.

“We don’t have family in this area,” she said. “So this is a way of giving back to our Luzerne County family.”

Stout and her husband, Jim, worked nearly every day for the entire week, processing boxes filled by church members and those delivered by churches across the valley.

In the midst of commercialism and the busyness of the holiday, Stout said the effort is a spiritual one, reminding others of God’s gift of his son.

Tina Flach, who was joining the church’s effort for the first time after moving from Tennessee, said many volunteers kept their eye out for appropriate items throughout the year.

“Like, when flip flops go on sale for 50 cents after summer is over.” she said.

Operation Christmas Child, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, provides directives as to what is to be placed in the special shoe boxes provided to those participating, including small toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

Flach said she recently learned that small fishing equipment and tools were acceptable for gifts designated for older boys from 10 to 14.

The small items of fishing equipment and tools, assist older boys receiving them in learning new skills which will allow them to helpful to their communities.

Donors designate if their gifts will go to a boy or girl and of what age.

Flach said families with children often select children of a similar age to provide with a box, so they can better relate to the child they are helping.

For example, a grade-school girl might like to select items for another girl of a similar age who she identifies with, Flach said.

The organization’s website also provides the opportunity to “track your box,” so donors can find out when and where their box is delivered.

Many Cross Creek families and families of other participating churches, select two or three boxes to fill for children of different ages.

Donors are encouraged to provide a note or card with the box, which can include an email address.

The group requires a $9 donation to cover shipping and other costs.

Laura Sarnak, Central Drop Off team lead, who has lead the effort for seven years, said the two trucks filled with boxes are headed to Boon, N.C., before finding their way across the world to needy children.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to over 168 million children in more than 100 countries, according to their website.

Dave Oldziejewski and Louise Stout count the number of boxes filled with necessities and treats before preparing them to be shipped to needy children at Cross Creek Community Church in Kingston Township on Sunday.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_christmas_child1_faa-2.jpgDave Oldziejewski and Louise Stout count the number of boxes filled with necessities and treats before preparing them to be shipped to needy children at Cross Creek Community Church in Kingston Township on Sunday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Tina Flach places donated boxes on a table in the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_christmas_child2_faa-2.jpgTina Flach places donated boxes on a table in the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Dave Rogers and Dave Oldziejewski pack boxes filled with necessities and treats into a shipping carton at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville on Sunday.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_christmas_child3_faa-2.jpgDave Rogers and Dave Oldziejewski pack boxes filled with necessities and treats into a shipping carton at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville on Sunday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Volunteers at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville take part in Operation Christmas Child on Sunday.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_christmas_child4_faa-2.jpgVolunteers at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville take part in Operation Christmas Child on Sunday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Volunteers at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville stack filled cartons in the back of a trailer on Sunday.
https://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_christmas_child5_faa-2.jpgVolunteers at the Cross Creek Church in Trucksville stack filled cartons in the back of a trailer on Sunday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Church collects items for needy children

By Geri Gibbons

For Times Leader