OVER 2,300 gift-filled shoeboxes have been donated by the generous public in East Dunbartonshire and are now making their way to vulnerable children in Europe.
The project, Operation Christmas Child (OCC), is one of the UK’s largest annual children’s charity projects and has organised one of the biggest ever collections.
Communities, Milngavie, Bearsden, Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie have all contributed to the massive appeal, along with dozens of volunteers in the OCC processing centre in Kirkintilloch.
Thousands of gift packs have been sent out to places including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Haiti, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Romania, Serbia, Swaziland and Ukraine.
The OCC regional manager for East Dunbartonshire, Chris Thomson, paid tribute to the efforts of all those who made donations.
He said: “It’s tremendous to see such kindness, particularly at a time when the economic downturn is hitting so many people. We’ve had some great support from the public locally and from our volunteers who work so hard.
“On behalf of Operation Christmas Child I would like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone in East Dunbartonshire who took part.
“Everyone who has donated a shoebox can be absolutely certain that it will have a very positive impact on the child who receives it.
“It’s our 21st year and we are so grateful for every shoebox that has ever been donated. We know each one brings happiness to the child who receives it.”
The appeal is the biggest annual project run by Samaritan’s Purse, the evangelical Christian humanitarian aid charity.
This year is the 21st annual appeal organised by Samaritan’s Purse and aims to visit children in places ‘where Santa cannot go’.
For some, the OCC shoebox is the only Christmas present they will be given this year, and yet many choose to share their gift with other impoverished children.
Mr Thomson added: “These children are living in really difficult situations, ranging from street shelters or orphanages to children’s homes or hospitals.
“Some do live with their families but even then we see children living in very harsh conditions, simply because the families are so poor.
“It might be difficult for someone to appreciate what a few toys, some toiletries and education items mean, but the children are so appreciative.
“What’s also fascinating is that they often get their shoebox and share things out with each other.
“I wish everyone could see the smiles on the children’s faces when they get their shoebox — it makes you appreciate how the simple act of someone here sending a shoebox to an unknown child really is a very personal, and important, act of kindness.”