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Shoe boxes packed for children in Third World countries

December 22, 1997

Shoe boxes packed for children in Third World countries

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail is highlighting 12 different individuals or groups who make a difference to others during the holiday season.

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

QUINCY, Pa. - It was the week before Thanksgiving and Loretta Tharp's living room already was packed from floor to ceiling with Christmas packages.

Seven hundred of them, to be exact.

Now headed for children in Third World countries, each gift is a shoe box filled with everything from coloring books and crayons to toothbrushes and toothpaste.

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"Some of those kids have never received a gift before," she said.

Tharp, 43, and her twin sister Lorrie filled about 30 of the boxes themselves. The rest were donated by individuals or groups.

Some people dropped off a single box and others brought whole trunk loads, either to her Slabtown Road house or her nearby business, Loretta's Flowers and Gifts.

Tharp checked each one to make sure it was wrapped correctly, the lid wrapped separately from the box and held together with a rubber band for easy inspection.

She labeled each one with the gender and age of a child for whom it would be suitable.

The Tharp sisters enlisted the help of some friends to take three van loads of boxes to a collection point in Lancaster, Pa.

Ultimately, cargo jets will take them to 36 needy countries.

Tharp would love to see children's faces as they open the gifts. But she doesn't think she'll ever make the overseas trip.

"I can buy a lot more crayons and pencils with that money. That's the way I look at it," she said.

She gets the satisfaction of seeing pictures of her good deeds in a newsletter from "Operation Christmas Child."

The effort is organized by Samaritan's Purse, a ministry of Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham, which also provides medical help to war-torn and disaster-ravaged countries.

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