Operation Christmas Child: Sunderland pupils’ festive offering to those in need

St Aidan's Catholic Academy pupils with over 200 shoeboxes collected for Operation Christmas Child.

St Aidan's Catholic Academy pupils with over 200 shoeboxes collected for Operation Christmas Child.

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Students at a Wearside school have teamed up with their local community to pack scores of shoeboxes with gifts for poor children across the world.

The pupils, families and staff at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, along with the help of those in the parishes of the city’s St Joseph’s and St Anne’s churches, have made 210 Christmas shoeboxes, which will be shipped out to children across the world.

We have been overwhelmed with the response.

Aidan Watson

Operation Christmas Child, which is run by the charity Samaritan’s Purse, began in 1990 when Dave Cooke, from North Wales, asked friends to fill a truck with toys to take to the children abandoned in Romanian orphanages.

There was an overwhelming response and Operation Christmas Child now ships millions of shoeboxes all over the world each year, to make sure as many children as possible who are living in poverty get a gift for Christmas.

Aidan Watson, the curate at The Willowbank Road secondary school, said everyone has been very generous and he has been overwhelmed by the response.

He said the last time they took part in the shoebox appeal, the pupils made up about 60 boxes, so to have created 210 this time is very impressive.

He said: “We have had students bringing in their own boxes made up and each registration group made boxes up with donated goods.”

Aidan said the students themselves approached the parishes to ask for donations and were thrilled with the amount that came flooding in.

He added: “We have been overwhelmed with the response from the parishes.

“The Year 12 and 13 students have made up the boxes with the items donated from them.”

The curate said they wanted to thank all the families, staff and the community who helped with the project, and the shoeboxes will be collected from the school by the distributors later this month and shipped out across the world.