She brings cheer to children around the world

December 23, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

Editor's note: In this 12-part series that runs through Christmas Eve, The Herald-Mail highlights people and organizations who make the holidays brighter for others.

Name: Loretta Tharp

Home: Quincy Township, Pa.

Age: 52

Occupation: Part-time cleaner. Tharp said she works part time so she has a flexible schedule to do volunteer work.

Organization: Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child

What do you do to make Christmas brighter? Tharp serves as a regional leader for Operation Christmas Child, an organization that provides millions of children with a gift each year.

Overseeing 10 warehouses in the region, Tharp coordinates with churches and individuals from Bedford, Pa., to Martinsburg, W.Va., to collect, pack and ship Christmas boxes. The boxes are collected each November and taken to a national facility, where they are shipped to children all over the world, she said.


Why do you do it? Tharp said she works with Operation Christmas Child because the simple act of packing a shoe box for Christmas has an eternal impact on people.

"I can sit in my living room, pack a shoe box and it will make a difference in the life of a child somewhere," she said.

Tharp tells the story of a young lady in Franklin County who was contacted by a man on the Internet claiming to have received a box from her years ago.

"He said he found hope through the Christmas boxes and now is a doctor," Tharp said. "But best of all, he said he was able to pack a box himself this year."

How can others help? Tharp said anyone can help out by packing a Christmas box. While the time for packing a box this year has passed, she said help is needed year-round.

"You can start making or buying gifts for in a box now," Tharp said.

Anyone who wants to volunteer may call Tharp at 717-749-3897.

Comment: "I do this because God takes these boxes and puts the right gift in the hands of the right child," Tharp said.

To explain, she tells a story of a girl in Honduras who went to receive a Christmas box when they came to her country. According to Tharp, the girl and her mother traveled a long way to get to the town, and when the little girl opened her box, in it was a neck brace. Tharp said the volunteers apologized, and told the girl they would get her a different box, but the girl's mother said no. The mother told the volunteers that the girl had been in an accident and doctors said she needed a neck brace, but they could not afford to buy one. Yet on that day, the little girl got a neck brace in a Christmas box.

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