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Christmas is Love in Action; An Unexpected Gift from a Pocono Resort

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The greatest gift you'll ever receive isn't found under any tree. What is it? Well, that's up to you.

"Love," said my friend Katie O'Hara.

"Family," said my friend Sam Postrion.

Love's the secret ingredient found in every batch of homemade Christmas cookies - better still when shared with others. It's found in fixing supper for a lonely neighbor or reaching out to an elderly shut-in, clearing snow from someone's sidewalk, or just brushing snow from a family member's windsheild.

It's that special gift of self found in serving others: at a soup kitchen, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, placing presents beneath the Angel Tree, and more.

It's taking the time to tell someone else - -with or without words --that they matter, that they're special, that you care.

That's what Woodloch did this season with its 12 Days of Giving, including a record breaking weekend when 400 staff members, guests and friends assembed a whopping 656 hunger relief packages filled with Thanksgiving food items for families in need. With the generous support of Pocono ProFoods and the United Way, the charitable event was accomplished in 1 minute and 19 seconds - earning a place in the Guiness Book of World Records.

There were gift-filled shoeboxes collected for Operation Christmas Child to benefit children around the world, toys collected for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree - benefiting more than 100 families, gifts for Toys for Tots, hug deliveries at area shopping malls, and random gift giving to name a few. The latter involved the Woodloch crew handing out pre-paid Visa gift cards to random shoppers.

One heartfelt recipient sent back an email. Woodloch worker Sam Monaghan had spotted the man at a Scranton mall. He looked a little down, so she approached and handed him a gift card.

Here's what he emailed back: "I just wanted to let someone from WoodLoch know how much the gift card for $25 they handed out at Viewmont Mall on Saturday 12/7 meant to someone. I am a housekeeper and as I was pushing my trash cart, I was handed a card. I am constantly being handed things from people, be it sales or religious stuff, or things people want thrown away. I took the card, and simply stuck it in my pocket. I probably did not even say "thank you." But when I got back to the break room and saw it was a gift card for $25, I went back out looking for the people to say thank you. You see, I had given someone else some money for gas earlier in the week, and was going to run out of gas myself before payday to get back and forth to work. So the $25 gift card was an answer to a prayer. You can not out give God. Bless you for your gifts. One of the other housekeepers found a gift card in the trash, and it answered a specific prayer request for him too. Thank you so much, God Bless, and Merry Christmas."

It's like motivational speaker and author Leo Buscaglia once said: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring all of which have the potential to turn a life around. "

Merry Christmas!


Help Woodloch in its "Operation Christmas Child" Donation Efforts

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~Shared by T. Compton

Wading chest-deep through a river in Ecuador, a little girl in pigtails holds a shoebox high above her head. Happiness crinkles the corners of her eyes.

Behind her, a young boy smilingly holds his red and green shoebox out of the water, careful not to get its contents wet. Inside are toys, school supplies, a toothbrush, a bar of soap, and other hygiene items.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse, delivers love and hope in the form of shoeboxes to children around the world, kids haunted by poverty, hunger, disease, war and more.

Operation Christmas Child

"The whole purpose is sending a filled shoebox to children ages two through 14 around the world. This gift doesn't just give them the joy of receiving the box, but the love of Christ comes with it," said Marianne Korman, Dropoff Center Relay Coordinator for New Covenant Fellowship Church in Hawley, PA .

"The goal for our church in Hawley is 500 boxes, but I would like to reach that 1,000 box marker when all of the (contributing) churches are in," Korman said.

Korman reached out to Woodloch Pines Resort in Lackawaxen Township, knowing that the Poconos Resort has a heart for children and supporting the community.

Each shoebox is filled with donations such as:

* Hygiene items: toothbrushes, toothpaste with expiration date visible, mild bars of soap, combs, washcloths.

* School supplies: pens, pencils, crayons, sharpeners, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, or loose leaf paper.

* Toys: small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.

**To help cover the shipping and other costs related to delivering your gift box to a child overseas, please donate $7.00 for each shoebox you prepare.**

Please note: You may also enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family (if you include your name and address the child may write back).

Katherine Harrison, a friendly volunteer who assists Korman at the collection site, calls herself "a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord."

Harrison encourages participants to pray over each box. "If you pray over it, that box goes to the child who needs what's in that shoe box at the time," she said, words strong with belief. She went on to share the story of a little boy whose family had suffered a fire in their village. His feet had been burned and he sorely needed something to cover them. When he opened his box, it was filled with socks. Seeing what was in the box, the Samaritan's Purse volunteer offered to exhange it for one filled with toys and other items, but the child said, no, this box - with its gloves and socks - was exactly what his family needed.

There's no such thing as coincidence; I belive it's God working behind the scenes.

Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan's Purse and son of popular evangelist Billy Graham, said, "Multitudes of children around the world are rejoicing with Operation Christmas Child as we celebrate over 100 million shoe box gifts since 1993. These gifts have enabled us to share the Gospel in some of the darkest corners of the world, reaching more than 150 countries and territories," said Franklin Graham.

Filled shoeboxes, donations of items to be placed in the boxes, or monetary donations are being accepted by Sarina Betz at Woodloch Pines Resort (ext. 8041) or Tammy Compton in the Reservations Department at Woodloch Pines Resort.

Donations must be received at Woodloch by Monday, November 18.


The Holiday Road runs through Woodloch!

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reunions, class trips

~Shared by J. Ranner

For as long as I can remember, embracing the spirit of "family togethering" has been instilled into my moral fiber. Not that I had much of a choice.

I was lucky enough to be born to a father that is the living embodiment of Clark W. Griswold of Vacation fame (if you're unfamiliar with the movies, they've earned my seal of appoval). Anyway, my dad, despite his incredibly busy schedule, always set aside time during the holidays to both visit family and more recently have family and friends visit him. My parents always make this time not because of convenience (anyone who's ever hosted a holiday will agree) but out of necessitiy. Our lives are all crazy, and nobody can really ever tell what's going to happen from year to year. Nothing worse than regret. 

Because of this, my family congregates every Christmas Eve for the same rituals. I can only surmise that many of you do the same.

Some years run smoother than others. And then you really DO have Griswold years when nothing seems to go right. Holidays, while hopefully enjoyable and uneventful, can also be quite the opposite. Any sitcom ever made will tell you that.

Let's not forget the cooking, cleaning, and traveling that accompanies holiday visits. It can be so overwhelming that in the grand scheme of things, you just might forget what you had been celebrating in the first place . . .

So with that in mind, why not compromise and get the best of both worlds? Hang out with the people you love and bond with them while avoiding all of the not-quite-so-much-fun aspects of gathering. Woodloch is an outstanding place to gather with everyone special in your life for good times! And December just happens to be loaded with all types of great holiday activities!

  • Hunt down our holiday "Yule Log" and bring good luck to all in 2013!
  • Gather round' a crackling fire for spirited caroling, egg nog, and a special visitor from the North Pole (or a lump of coal...)
  • Experience the magical illumination of our "Festival of Lights" wagon rides!
  • Holiday one-stop shopping with our Craft Fair!
  • Put your holiday baking skills to the ultimate test with our "Gingerbread Wars!"
  • and much, much more!
Decembers are "dazzling" at Woodloch and offer the perfect opportunity to not only be with those you hold dearest but also relieve yourself of some holiday stress! No cooking or cleaning necessary; you just have to dedicate yourself to enjoy time with those you hold dearest!

I think you can manage that! :)


LIGHTS ON! Brighten up your holidays in the Poconos!

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Festival of Lights in the pocono Mountains

The last of the brilliant autumn foliage fell to the ground weeks ago in the scenic Pocono Mountains, marking the advent of snow and chilly temperatures that will surely follow. What better way to lift your spirits in these days than with some brilliant holiday lights? Family Holidays in the Poconos

If you haven't ever joined us here at Woodloch during the holiday season, you are missing quite the spectacle. After the last crumb of stuffing leaves the Thanksgiving table, the resort is transformed almost instantaneously overnight into a vibrant display of illumination. With the resort lit up across its 135 acres even the coldest of winter nights seem warmer.


On top of that, Woodloch's special packages also offer the annual "Festival of Lights," a magical hayride through our Nature Trail. You will enjoy some holiday music, good times with family, and if you behave yourselves... maybe even get a visit from Santa!

Though our guests may not realize it during their stay, preparations for the holiday light displays begin even before October! Little by little, behind the scenes, our staff spends many countless hours scaling trees, testing bulbs, and rearranging fixtures to ensure that everything looks picture-perfect for the traditional lighting on Black Friday.

So, if you are looking to spend some quality time with family and friends this holiday season, join us in the Pocono Mountains for a little bit of illumination. Our Festival of Lights tours will run through New Year's, while displays around the resort will be shining through the Russian Christmas. Brighten up your holidays with a visit to Woodloch!

Enjoy a Family Vacation & Holiday Shopping in The Poconos

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At Woodloch we’re testing light strings and polishing our snow globes in preparation for the overnight transformation into the holidays on November 25.  The staff works around the clock to switch gears from Thanksgiving to the holidays in less than twenty-four hours!  That is not all they do to get into the holiday spirit.  This year, as for the past two decades, we’re offering guests a priceless holiday memory; the opportunity to get the holiday shopping done while spending quality time with the family and friends! As the lyrics go, city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style…children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile...  but that’s not always how it feels during the busiest time of the year. 

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“We created the Holiday Craft Show over 20 years ago as a way to support our local craftsmen as well as provide an opportunity for our guests to purchase one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for their loved ones, all while enjoying each other’s company” says John Kiesendahl, Owner and General Manager. “Guests return year-after-year to simply escape the commercial frenzy that takes over during this time and get back-to-basics of simply enjoying their families while still getting the holiday shopping done.”

The Holiday Craft Show includes approximately 45 local craftsmen who have been hand-selected to retail their work during two spectacular weekends!

Hand-crafted goods include items such as;

  • Jewelry of all kinds

  • Pottery & wood carvings

  • Natural skincare

  • Wine and cheese accessories

  • Hand-painted craft items and so much more!

All the retailers are all less than 60 miles from Woodloch. During National Small Business Week, 2011, it was announced that there are 27 million+ small businesses in the United States and approximately 50% of them last five years or more!  “Supporting small businesses and providing guests with the best gift of all, time with their loved ones, is a win-win for everyone,” notes Kiesendahl.

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The Holiday Craft Show will take place on December 4th and 11th from 10:00am – 3:00 pm, during our “Magic of the Holidays Weekends”.  Our weekends feature an endless array of activity themed around the season, like an awesome Magic show Friday night with the BIG reveal on Saturday! The “Magic of the Holidays” rates start at $199 per adult, per night and include 3 meals daily, admission to the Holiday Craft Show as well as endless activities, amenities and nightly entertainment.

Celebrate "The Magic of the Holidays" in the Poconos

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Holidays in the Poconos

After the last leaves of Autumn have descended and temperatures in the Poconos have chilled, Woodloch Pines, one of the best pocono resorts, sitting ashore of Lake Teedyuskung, can become a rather mystical place… some might even say, “MAGICAL.”

Snowflakes in the air, roaring fireplaces and the feeling of goodwill toward mankind all set the mood for the holiday season. This year, Woodloch has taken an even bigger step towards making your holiday even more memorable: bring your family and friends the weekends of December 2nd-4th and December 9th-11th in our first ever “Magic of the Holidays Weekend.”

Each weekend will feature a professional world-class magician, performing on Friday night. Jay Mattioli, a magician that has performed on America’s Got Talent and won several awards from magician alliances, will be featured December 2nd . Jason Bishop, another perennial Woodloch favorite and who was the youngest person to win the Magician’s Alliance of Eastern States Stage Award, will highlight the December 9th show.

The following day, each magician will host a “Magic Workshop”- everyone is invited to learn exactly how to perform certain magic tricks as they are taught by the magicians. When you return home, you will be able to dazzle family and friends with a newfound talent! In addition to this brand new special event, the packages will also feature our “Festival of Lights” tour, a tree farm caravan, holiday scavenger hunt, caroling and yule log hunt, holiday craft show and so much more.

Reservations are still available, but like the season, they won’t last forever. So join us this December in the countryside for some real holiday fun- and that’s no ILLUSION!

Check out Jay Mattioli:



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