Members of the Smith family from Orangefield pass out free white crosses to passers-by this past Monday morning in a parking lot in front of Walmart in West Orange. The Smiths are part of Turning Point Church in Vidor, which has been passing out the crosses for many weeks. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Faith and religion are subjects some people prefer not to discuss in order to avoid conflict, but, for others, it is something to be shared because it is part of who they are.

This past Monday morning, the Eric and Sonia Smith, along with their four children, were at the parking lot in front of Walmart in West Orange passing free wooden crosses to any who wanted to have one. Some were unpainted, others were painted white, but both were free and were going quickly.

“We were there maybe 45 minutes, and had already passed out about 60 crosses,” said Sonia Smith as she waved to vehicles driving slowly to and from Walmart.

The Smiths, and their children, Conner, 15; Seth, 9; Olivia, 7; and Korbyn, 6, who are from Orangefield, stood along the drive and waved to traffic with crosses in hand and signs stating the crosses were free.

The Smiths are members of Turning Point Church in Vidor and, along with others, began passing the free crosses out in fall of 2015 following the media coverage of the Minnesota-based group calling for the removal of the large white cross at Port Neches Park.

“A Mid-County group started passing out crosses after that, so our Fishers of Men ministry decided to help,” she said. “We did that for about a month and were finishing up when the Nativity scene in Orange was moved off city property. So, once that happened, it all started up again.”

The Orange County Atheist group did not request the Nativity scene to be removed from City Hall in early December, but the group had requested having its only holiday greeting banner placed alongside it. City officials opted to remove the Nativity scene from city property and allowed it to be placed on private property next door, which is owned by the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation.

Smith said crosses have been passed out to those who wanted them in Bridge City several times, but they had only been in Orange once before Monday.

“There is no other purpose for us doing this but to spread the love,” Smith continued. “We’re just Christians standing up for together for what we believe.”

Smith said there had been no problem passing out the crosses as motorists were stopping and accepting the free crosses nearly as quickly as the children and their father, Eric, could hand  them out.

Vernon Douglas of Sulphur, La. was leaving Walmart and stopped to pick up one from the Smith family.

“I think it’s great they are out here doing this,” Douglas said. “Too many people are afraid to talk about their faith, much less show their faith, but I think more of us need to do it nowadays.”

Smith said the crosses are built and painted at the Palms Event Center in Orange, but manpower is hard to come by.

“We definitely need volunteers to help build these crosses,” she explained. “We’ve had some church groups offer to help, along with some Boy Scout groups and some others.”

Smith said her family and the church will continue to hand out the free crosses for as long as they are able.

“The fellowship we have shared by meeting so many new people has been a blessing,” she said. “Handing out these crosses has been more of a blessing to my family than anything.”

For more information, find the public group Little White Crosses of Orange County on Facebook.