AN OXFORDSHIRE campaign to deliver shoeboxes packed with Christmas gifts to disadvantaged children all over the world is under way.
The county’s Samaritan’s Purse volunteers are hoping to play their part in sending the charity’s 100 millionth shoebox this year as part of Operation Christmas Child.
The global children’s project sends simple gift-filled boxes to victims of war, natural disaster, famine, disease and poverty during the festive season.
They are urging churches, schools, workplaces and individuals to help pack boxes in time for the Sunday, November 18, deadline.
For information on how to complete a gift-filled shoebox, visit the website http://www.operation christmaschild.org.uk
Oxfordshire regional manager for Operation Christmas Child, Roger Fenton said: “The challenge for us now is to grow Oxfordshire’s contribution to this global programme, so we’re asking everyone across the region to help us achieve that.
“This year is the 22nd year of Operation Christmas Child and the level of support from across the county is vital to the success of the project.”
Over the past 22 years, the charity has delivered 94 million shoeboxes, containing school supplies, toys and necessities like toothpaste to children in more than 100 countries.
Shoebox gifts are collected in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Spain, and Oxfordshire makes a significant contribution to the total.
Mr Fenton added: “Last year we received shoeboxes from supporters in a wide range of communities, .
“Over 9,300 gift-filled shoeboxes were distributed to vulnerable children in Belarus, Bosnia and Romania.
“It’s wonderful to think that we are a small part of such a large global project that is doing so much good.”
Nationally, more than 6,000 volunteers help collect and process the boxes through 140 processing centres and warehouses.
Marie Cotton, who helps fill shoeboxes at Witney Methodist Hall, added: “It would be great if we could have a few more volunteers.
“If people don’t want to give a full shoebox, donations of a few items – toys, toothpaste, cloths, hairbrushes and cuddly toys – will be accepted.”
A shoebox wrapping demonstration will be taking place at the Methodist Hall on Saturday, October 6.