Give needy kids Christmas gift by filling a shoebox

THE deadline is fast approaching for boxes filled with gifts for children who wouldn’t otherwise get anything at Christmas.

Donations for one of the UK’s biggest annual children’s charity projects - Operation Christmas Child - have to be in by Friday, November 18.

They will then be distributed to vulnerable children in over a dozen countries – last year over one million shoeboxes were sent from the UK.

People are being asked to include a sports item in the boxes as 2012 will see the Olympic Games held in the UK.

Chris Thomson, regional manager of Operation Christmas Child, said: “It’s a busy but brilliant time for us with donations coming from all over including Bearsden, Lennoxtown, Milngavie and Milton of Campsie. We’ve got a great team of volunteers who are out and about collecting shoeboxes from schools, churches, businesses and organisations - they check and pack the shoeboxes in our warehouses at Glasgow for onward transportation.

“It’s a hectic and happy time. We meet lots of local people – from school pupils to senior citizens – whose kindness makes such a huge difference to the children who receive the shoeboxes.

“Many of them are in state-run homes, street shelters, orphanages or hospital or may be living with their families but facing real hardship in their daily lives. The smiles we see at this end from those donating the shoeboxes are matched at the other end when the youngsters open their shoebox – it’s a simple way for one person to help another.”

If you miss the November 18 deadline you could still go on to the charity’s website to pick items and pay for them, they will then be sent to a child in need overseas.

The charity is also urging people to go online to donate £2.50 for promotion, processing, UK transportation and shipping - simply print off a barcode slip to put inside your shoebox. This will be scanned and when the shoebox has entered the distribution system you will get an e-mail to tell you what country your shoebox is going to.

Go to www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk or phone the helpline on 0870 011 2002. The website also has a list of local drop-off points for individuals to hand in their shoebox.