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Connellsville-based Operation Christmas Child organizer spreads hope

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Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Keith Krabach of World Christian Outreach Ministries, Connellsville, wants to do more this Christmas than just give children presents. He wants to give them hope through Operation Christmas Child, an international ministry that sends shoeboxes of presents to children around the world.

Krabach began helping with this ministry several years ago as a way of helping others.

“I believe that education is important,” he said. “We focus a lot on sending school supplies to children who need them.”

Operation Christmas Child began in 1990 in Wales as a response to the conflict in the Balkans. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, adopted the ministry, which reaches more than 100 countries.

Organizations can serve as drop-off centers where people can take their shoeboxes or be collection centers where shoeboxes from throughout a given area are collected before being sent to one of the main processing centers.

Ruth Smith of World Christian Outreach Ministries has participated in Operation Christmas Child for nearly 15 years.

“The 10- to 14-year age group seems to get the least attention,” Smith said. “Nobody is sure what to buy for that age group. It's easier to buy things for younger kids.”

She said this situation does not have to be.

“The basic needs are the same for all the children,” she said. “Older children have a greater need for school supplies.”

Last year, Smith went to a processing center in Charlotte, N.C.

“Seeing the next step of this process was exciting,” she said. She noted that everything was high-tech and of top quality.

“It inspired me to help,” Smith said.

People can participate in Operation Christmas Child by selecting a child based on age and gender. People can place items in a shoebox with detached lid. A donation of $7 helps with shipping costs.

Acceptable items include hygiene items, small toys and school supplies.

Unacceptable items include anything that pertains to war. Liquids or perishable items are prohibited.

Smith says flip-flops, baseball caps, tops and shorts are among the more popular items.

Collection dates for this year are as follows:

• Nov. 18-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

• Nov. 23, 10 a.m.-noon

• Nov. 24, 1-4 p.m.

World Christian Outreach Ministries is at 503 Georgia Ave., Connellsville, just behind Subway on Route 119 South.

For details, call Smith at 724-628-9285.

Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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