Charitable event offers fun for kids

ELKINS — A local charitable organization is gearing up for an event that will provide fun activities for children as well as information about what the group does.

Operation Christmas Child will offer a “touch-a-truck” event with a fire truck and police car on Fourth Street in Elkins from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Also from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Elkins, Nadia Karnatova, an Ohio resident who is formerly from Ukraine, will speak about the impact it made on her life to receive a shoebox from the program as a child.

Tucker County native Ira Miller will celebrate his 101st birthday by packing 101 shoeboxes for children.

“It is always encouraging to others, I think, especially ones that haven’t done this project, to actually be able to hear from someone who received a shoebox and how it impacted her life,” Bob Cowgill, Operation Christmas Child network coordinator said of Karnatova’s presentation. “She was a Christian before receiving this box but a lot of kids aren’t. Still, it has affected her in so many ways because she now goes all around the country speaking for Operation Christmas Child.”

Cowgill added he also believes it is amazing to see how committed Miller is to the program.

“He just wants to tell people about Jesus and that is the main thing for him,” Cowgill said. “It is amazing that at his age he has that much enthusiasm for this project.”

Activities at FUMC will also include games for children, a craft table of information about the program and ideas of what to include in the shoeboxes, snacks and more. West Virginia University Mountaineer mascot Trevor Kiess will be on hand from 12 to 1 p.m. to take photos, sign autographs and help pack boxes.

Cowgill noted the local Operation Christmas Child effort is a “team effort” of volunteers from Randolph, Pocahontas, Webster, Upshur, Tucker and Barbour counties. He added the organization has no paid employees in the entire state.

“This is a project not only of the First United Methodist Church but of the Elkins team which includes six counties, Randolph and the five surrounding counties, because we have drop-off locations in each one of those counties,” Cowgill said. “It’s really an Elkins team effort.”

Cowgill added the organization is always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can reach him by calling 304-636-6367 or contacting Patty Parsons, Operation Christmas Child area coordinator, at 304-940-9561.

Karnatova will also speak from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at The Way of Holiness Church in Buckhannon and join Tygart Valley Ministries, in Beverly, for their Sunday morning service.

More information on Karnatova’s story can be found at

Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, using gifts of toys, basic items of necessity and clothing to spread the gospel to children ages 2 to 14.

Donations help supply literature of the gospel that introduces a discipleship program called “The Greatest Journey,” which is placed into the boxes before preparations for shipment.

Since the beginning of the project in 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected and delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories. More than 4.7 million children have participated in “The Greatest Journey” program, implemented through a global church network.

According to the organization’s mission statement, Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine.

Operation Christmas Child also offers a year-round opportunity to pack personalized shoe boxes online.

Anyone interested can visit to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox.

To follow the box’s journey from the website to the country and child, there is a donation form available on the site.