THOUSANDS of people across the county have given needy children in a foreign country some Christmas cheer.
The shoeboxes collected for this year’s Operation Christmas Child appeal, run by Samaritan’s Purse, in Northumberland have been sent to Albania.
A total of 4,435 – filled with toys, educational items, toiletries such as toothbrushes, combs, soaps and flannels, sweets, gloves, scarves, caps and other items – were processed at Doxford Place Methodist Church in Cramlington.
They will be handed out to boys and girls in the two-to-four, five-to-nine and ten-to-14 age categories. They were originally set for Belarus, but there was a change of plan due to logistical problems with transport.
Those involved in organising the effort have thanked all the individuals, schools, churches, organisations, volunteers, knitters, drivers, checkers and packers who were involved with the appeal this year as well as the Shoe Zone shops and Handi Stationery in Alnwick for being drop-off points for the public.
Area coordinator Carol Nelson said: “We have been amazed at the generosity of people supplying completed boxes.
“As stated previously, a great number of boxes last year had no money in them so Samaritan’s Purse had to pay the transport costs, but this year, many organisations as well as supplying shoeboxes have held extra events to raise more money to help with the transport costs to cover the boxes that had no money in, and for that we are very grateful.
“The number of boxes we sent out exceeded last year’s appeal (4,056) and shows that even when times are tough, the people of Northumberland are still willing to help children who are less fortunate than themselves.
“Our heartfelt thanks go to all of you who have been involved this year and when you open your presents on Christmas morning, you will know that a child somewhere in Albania will have a smile on their face when they open their shoebox because of the generosity of the people of Northumberland.”
She added that shoeboxes sent from Operational Christmas Child are given to needy children around the world regardless of religion. Unlike other organisations, its coordinators do not put any religious material at all in them.
For more information about becoming involved, call Carol on 01670 736509 or Jackie Rogers on 07973 331748.