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The South Central PA OCC Team goes back to 1995 when Loretta Tharp packed two shoe box gifts after reading an article in Decision magazine. Loretta had been praying for an opportunity to reach out to others and make a difference for eternity. She was tired of feeling that she was "just sitting in church each Sunday keeping the pew warm."
The following year Loretta put an article in her local newspaper, and 335 shoe boxes came in and were parked in her living room for a few weeks. In 1997 the number grew to 775, and the next year produced 1,474 boxes. It was quite evident that God had His hand on this project and was blessing it.
By 2001 a Collection Center was established in the Waynesboro area, and stories were coming back from the field of lives being changed for eternity because of shoe box gifts. Many of the hard-working people in the South Central PA area have volunteered to serve at the Collection Center, and some work year-round making "filler" items for the Processing Center. They understand the impact of a simple gift and welcome the opportunity to help share Christ with children all around the world.
Through the years Loretta served as the Collection Center Coordinator and did most of the other jobs as well. She really could not imagine doing things differently until, in March, 2010, she attended her first Connect Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. God began to show her a better way, and by mid-July the South Central PA team was officially established. Loretta served as an Area Coordinator until 2014 and is now a Regional Area Coordinator serving over several other teams.
The South Central Pa team, which now consists of Franklin County and a the part of Cumberland County around Shippensburg, has approximately 90 Year Round Volunteers! The leadership team consists of:
God has continued to bless South Central PA! Each year the number of shoe boxes grows and more people, churches, and community groups get involved. "The Power of a Simple Gift" is realized on both sides of the box—those blessed by the gift and those blessed for packing the gift!
To God be the Glory—for He has done great things, and is more than ready to do "immeasurably more than we ask or even think according to His power working in us." (Eph. 3:20-21).