We did it, thank you, Northumberland.
On Saturday, November 26, we, at Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal 2016, loaded 4,703 shoeboxes from Northumberland onto a lorry, which was taking them to needy children in Romania.
This exceeded our total from last year by 200, which was absolutely excellent.
Romania is where Operational Christmas Child started back in 1990 after pictures of the conditions of the orphanages where children lived were shown on television in the UK.
The charity now delivers to 130 of the poorest countries worldwide.
Last year 11million shoeboxes were sent globally.
The boxes that are sent from the UK are given to needy children around the world regardless of religion.
Unlike some other shoeboxes who have nothing to do with our appeal, we do not put anything religious at all into our shoeboxes.
We call it Unconditional Love in a Box to a Child.
We, as the co-ordinators for the whole of Northumberland, would like to say a very big thank you to all the schools, churches, organisations, volunteers, knitters, drivers, checkers and packers, who were involved with the appeal this year.
To all the Shoe Zone, Spec Saver shops and Handie Stationery in Alnwick, thank you for being drop off points in the area for the public.
This was a great help for our drivers.
And to the Reverend Adele Moorhouse and the congregation of the Methodist Church, Doxford Place, Cramlington, thank you from all of us for allowing us to use your church again to process the boxes.
This is the fourth year that we have used the church building and all the volunteers involved in checking the boxes agreed that it is the best premises that they have been in.
It is always warm and comfortable and it is easy for everyone to get to.
Thank you also to Northumbria police, who advised and supported us on the Saturday that we loaded the boxes onto to the lorry.
Once again we have been truly amazed at the generosity of people and children supplying completed boxes as well as all the donations of knitted items, hats, gloves, scarves, toiletries and stationery to fill them.
As in previous years we received some boxes with no money in them.
Samaritans Purse does need cash to help pay for the transport costs.
However, this year we were very fortunate that many individuals and organisations of the public as well as supplying shoeboxes held extra events to raise more money to help with the transport costs to cover these boxes and for that we are very grateful.
Although this year’s appeal is finished, I know that the knitters and others have already started collecting for next year.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who have been involved this year and we look forward to seeing you next year.
When you open your presents on Christmas morning this year you will know that a child somewhere in Romania will have a smile on their face when they open their shoebox because of the generosity of the people of Northumberland.
If you would like to know more about our branch of Samaritans Purse or if you would like to become involved, please contact us on the numbers below.
Carol Nelson, 01670 736509