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17-year-old girl recycling bottles into crosses to honor veterans and first responders who’ve died a

Oak Grove, SC (Paul Kirby) - Elizabeth Malejko, 17, has been on the cemetery committee of St. David’s Lutheran Church near Oak Grove for several years. According to Elizabeth, the church has 125 veterans and approximately 12 first responders buried in the church’s cemetery. She feels strongly about honoring those who have passed, but especially those who served their country and community who gave so much for others.

During the holiday season, Elizabeth felt she wanted to do a Laying of the Wreaths Ceremony like they do at Fort Jackson and other national cemeteries across the US. Of course, this sounds like a wonderful idea, but how would she and the committee fund the wreaths every year?

Close to the Christmas season of 2018, Elizabeth began brain storming about how the wreaths could be produced without putting a strain on the church’s finances. Eventually, she came up with the idea of melting plastic water and soda bottles into crosses. This was a way they could recycle and reuse plastics and have wreaths that were fitting and free or at a very low cost. After some experimenting, Elizabeth and her family finally landed on a succesful process and went into action! According to Elizabeth’s mother Denise Malejko, “By the grace of the Lord, we finished the first wreaths by June 1st, 2019 for our veterans.”

According to Elizabeth and her family, it takes approximately 20 water bottles or 14-16 soda bottles to make one cross. Each also requires about 45 minutes to an hour to make. Elizabeth sprays each with an appropriate glow in the dark paint so they can be seen both day and night!

The church’s 1st Annual Laying of the Cross will be Saturday, December 7th at 11 a.m. The Elizabeth and her church family hope that members of the community will join them for this important ceremony. St David’s Lutheran Church is located at 132 St David’s Church Road, West Columbia. It’s just off Augusta Road near the Barnyard Flea Market.

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