Local churches came together at Oak Woods Rehab and Wellness Center on Saturday, December 1, to spread some holiday joy with the annual Christmas Store.

The Christmas Store is an annual local tradition where area churches collect various gift items: jewelry, blankets, stuffed animals, socks, bath sets, and other items, and take them to area nursing homes where they set up a christmas store. Here residents can pick out gifts for themselves or family. Volunteers help them choose and gift wrap their items. All the gifts are free for the residents.

“We let them come through and get six to eight gifts,” explained Oak Woods Activities Director Tina Carney.

This year volunteers from Cherry Ridge Baptist, First Baptist Swartz, Mer Rouge Baptist, and Mer Rouge Methodist, brought the Christmas Store to Oak Woods. Volunteers made sure the residents had a fun time.

“There was a lady playing Christmas songs on the piano, and some churches brought snacks,” said Carney.

The churches provide the store to brighten the holiday season for the residents and to be a witness for Christ. The volunteers feel they are blessed by it just as much as those they are serving.

“Its another season of sharing the love of Jesus,” commented volunteer Linda White

The Christmas Store is something the residents look forward to each December. It is one of their most loved events.

“We had residents lining up all the way down the halls to get in,” said Carney.

The volunteers make sure each and every resident gets to pick out gifts. If someone is unable to get their own a volunteer or employee will take care of it.

“We have CNA's come in and pick out things for those who can't make it,” explained Carney. “Gifts are even chosen for those in the hospital so no one gets left out.”

Volunteers enjoy seeing the residents happy and excited for Christmas. The Christmas Store is a tradition that area churches hope to continue for years to come.