Christmas starts early in Pa.

September 24, 1999

Twins help needyBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

file photo

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Last year it took a van to haul all the shoe boxes full of Christmas gifts two Franklin County women collected for needy children overseas.

This year it will take a trailer truck.

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Identical twins Loretta Smedley and Lorrie Tharp, 44, owners of Twins Timeless Treasures in Mont Alto, said this year they hope to collect 4,000 shoe boxes filled with goodies for Operation Christmas Child, a charity run by Samaritan's Purse, a religious mission based in Boone, N.C.

Each year the twins fill dozens of shoe boxes themselves, but many others come from individuals and members of area civic, religious and social organizations. The boxes can be filled with toys, stuffed animals, school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy, sunglasses, ball caps, socks, watches and books.


The sisters got involved in the program four years ago. "We learned about it and packed two boxes and shipped them to North Carolina," Smedley said. "The next year we filled or collected 340 boxes. The next year it was 720 and last year we sent 1,740. It just keeps growing."

Until now the twins' gift shop at 7255 Slabtown Road was the only drop-off point at which donors could leave their shoe boxes. The twins packed them into larger boxes, put them on the truck and sent them to Lancaster, Pa., a regional collection point on the way to North Carolina.

This year the gift shop will be one of eight drop-off points in Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania and Washington County in Maryland. Smedley recruited eight companies to volunteer their facilities.

"It will be a lot easier for people to drop off their boxes, especially those who live in Maryland or West Virginia," Smedley said.

Brochures explaining the project and suggested items for the shoe boxes are available at the drop-off points, she said.

A check for $5 made out to Samaritan's Purse has to be included in each box to cover the cost of shipping. Asked if Samaritan's Purse made money off the checks, Smedley said, "You try shipping a 9-pound box to Bosnia and see what it costs you. They call them shoe boxes with wings because they fly all over the world."

She said some individuals pack 25 boxes or more so the $5 shipping charge can get expensive. She suggests they recruit other people and groups to cover the shipping costs. "They can find sponsors," she said.

Drop-off locations for toys include:

* In Franklin County, the twins' gift shop, 717-749-3824; The Lighthouse Restaurant in Chambersburg, 717-263-4878; Shippensburg Health Care, 717-530-8300; Wiles Country Charm Crafts in Blue Ridge Summit, 717-794-5522; Modnur Pharmacy in Mercersburg, 717-328-3612; and Modnur Pharmacy in St. Thomas, 717-369-4636.

* In Fulton County, McLaughlin's Pharmacy in McConnellsburg, 717-485-3724.

* For Hagerstown, Washington County and West Virginia, Massey Ford in Hagerstown is the drop-off, 301-739-6756.

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