We run a campaign at Christmas, called, Operation Christmas Child. Shoeboxes are filled with gifts suitable for children of different ages. Each box is a gift sent by the donor, a person belonging to a church or school or any other group, and sometimes individuals.
These boxes are collected and then have to be checked and packed ready to load onto a lorry for their journey to Eastern Europe, Africa or indeed anywhere they are needed around the world. The boxes are sent to children who are in war-torn places, or troubled countries, through war or disaster.
We as a Church have been preparing the boxes now for 9 years. We started out by collecting from the local schools and then packing them in our Church Hall. We soon collected many boxes, and as each year came we did more until we could not manage for space in the hall or getting the cartons of boxes away to a nearby warehouse.
We needed our own warehouse. In 2008 we managed to get our own in Sudbury, and filled our first lorry full with 10,000 boxes inside. We can only manage this many because local people help us with all manner of things, and the warehouse is owned by a very generous business man.
As 2011 campaign is now over, we have sent out a lorry to Belarus with 10.300 boxes and 2 weeks later our part-load of around 1.300 more also went to Belarus. We now have a volunteer work-force of around 150 people. They don’t all come on the same day!!
It is wonderful fun to be involved, and our helpers now come from many places around the district. The shoeboxes are distributed by the Charity called Samaritans’ Purse. They are a Christian organisation, and give freely to all irrespective of religion or creed, anyone in need, in fact. The gift that we get, is the photos of the smiling faces of the children when they open their box.
More information on Samaritans’ Purse can be found here