Have you ever wondered what you could personally do to make a difference in the world? What if you could reach one child and make a difference in his or her life in a profound way? Good news…you can do just that right here in Shippensburg!

The Shoebox Supply House, a ministry partner with Operation Christmas Child, opened its doors last month at its warehouse facility on Lurgan Avenue with hopes that the Shippensburg community, and beyond, will come together to fill shoeboxes for needy children all around the world. This Sunday, July 14, from 1-4 p.m., the facility will host an open house for the general public to come and see first-hand what Operation Christmas Child is all about.

The Shoebox Supply House board, which consists of nine individuals, began the process of acquiring the old Grief Building on Lurgan Avenue in January. Board members made their request known to Samaritan’s Purse, the sponsoring organization, and after weeks of waiting and praying, Samaritan’s Purse gave their blessing. On April 29, the contract for the building was signed and soon after, the real work began!

“The building is perfect for housing all our supplies and the location is great,” said Susie Cook, board secretary for the Shoebox Supply House. “We were so happy to get things up and running, and we’re so excited to be able to finally share our mission with the Shippensburg community.”

Loretta Tharp, president of the board, has been involved with Operation Christmas Child for more than 20 years, and has been instrumental in bringing the Supply House to Shippensburg. “We are thrilled to be able to bring this type of organization to Shippensburg and give the community the opportunity to share in the joy of bringing hope to children around the world,” Tharp said. “This facility is for anyone who wants to come in and learn about the organization, or for those who already know about us, they can come and fill one shoebox, or 100 shoeboxes! We’re here to share the love of Christ with the world and we encourage individuals or groups, Sunday School classes or volunteers, to come in, pack some boxes and help spread the message of Christ and his love to the world, especially to children who need us the most.”

Both Tharp and Cook encourage anyone who has an interest in learning about Operation Christmas Child to come and check out the facility. “We’ll gladly show anyone how the process works,” Cook explained.

Shoeboxes are filled with everything from school supplies, to personal hygiene items, to toys and backpacks. Cook also explained that they encourage those packing the boxes to include a personalized note to the children receiving the boxes, and a photo if they desire.

“There is also a preprinted book called “The Greatest Journey” that is given out with the shoeboxes at the distribution point. The book tells all about the story of Jesus through a 12-week session, and also gives both the children and their families the opportunity to learn about Jesus and share the story with others.” She said everyone who volunteers at the Supply House in Shippensburg and in other locations share the same message, that the shoeboxes are not simply Christmas gifts, but they are gospel opportunities that can open up a whole new world to children and their families who in most cases have never heard of Jesus Christ. “That’s what we’re all about!” Cook exclaimed.

The Shoebox Supply House is packed with all kinds of supplies, shoeboxes, packaging materials and more to help those who come to the facility pack as many boxes as they wish. There are rows and rows of bins filled with everything from toothbrushes, soaps, combs and crayons, to backpacks, stuffed animals, soccer balls, coloring books and Koosh balls, and everything in between. A soft opening was held last month for the folks around the Lurgan Avenue area, to give them an opportunity to see what’s been going on at the location. “We encourage everyone to stop by and take a peek at what we’re doing, and hopefully they’ll want to pitch in and help, or better yet, bring their friends and pack some boxes to help bring a smile and hope to children around the world,” Cook said. “The shoeboxes are simply a vessel to get us into these other countries. Once we get into the countries, then we (our missionaries) have the opportunity to share and spread the gospel of Christ with people in those countries, and that makes all the difference in the world!”

Everything at the warehouse (materials and merchandise) is purchased through donations. All monies donated to the Supply House go right back into the program and are used in various ways, including paying rent for the building, paying bills associated with the program, and purchasing more supplies to restock the bins and shelves. “It really is an awesome opportunity to come in and see what we’re all about,” both Tharp and Cook said, and they encourage visitors to the open house to ask questions, and if they wish, come and volunteer when the facility is open.

Regular hours after Sunday will be every Monday and Thursday

from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., every third Thursday from 3-7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Look for them on Facebook where you’ll find additional information.

The Supply House is located at 208 Lurgan Ave., Shippensburg, the former Grief Clothing Factory.

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