Operation Christmas Child gets under way

Volunteers full of Christmas cheer are asking the people of Shropshire to donate shoeboxes full of presents to be sent to children in poverty as part of this year’s Operation Christmas Child.

Area co-ordinator Elaine Udakis looks at the Christmas boxes mounting up
Area co-ordinator Elaine Udakis looks at the Christmas boxes mounting up

The annual event, which runs for three weeks until November 18, is run by Samaritans Purse, which says it has already delivered some 94 million shoeboxes of toys to needy children since it started 22 years ago.

The Operation Christmas Child warehouse opened in Hortonwood, Telford, yesterday and the Shrewsbury centre is due to open next Monday.

Last year, the people of Shropshire donated more than 13,000 shoeboxes which were sent to children in Kosovo and Romania.

Volunteers Sandra Perkins and Pat Guy start to sift through the presents
Volunteers Sandra Perkins and Pat Guy start to sift through the presents

Elaine Udakis, the Shropshire district co-ordinator for Operation Christmas Child, said: “The people of Shropshire are incredibly generous.

“Last year, we sent out 8,784 shoeboxes to Kosovo from the centre in Hortonwood, and 4,940 were sent from the Shrewsbury centre, most of them going to Romania.

“Many of these children will have never received presents before, or won’t have ever had a toy, so it will really make them happy.

“The challenge for us now is to grow Shropshire’s contribution to this global programme, so we’re asking everyone across the region to help us achieve that.”

This year the operation, which also collects shoeboxes in America, Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Spain, is hoping to pass the 100 million shoebox mark globally.

The volunteers are encouraging people taking part to do something creative to help them reach the target by the closing date of November 18.

Mrs Udakis said: “We are already finding throughout Shropshire, many individuals and groups are creatively going the extra mile in a number of ways including hosting coffee mornings, special concerts and shoebox parties.

“It’s a great way to get people together and pack their boxes and it’s really helping us towards our 100 million challenge.

“It’s not about the 100 million number, but that each individual child will know that someone cares about them this Christmas.”

To take part visit www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk for instructions.