KIND-HEARTED people are being urged to help a Christmas charity reach a new milestone.
Operation Christmas Child is now in its 22nd year and the 2012 Annual Shoebox Appeal is up and running in Sunderland.
The international appeal began in 1990 with just 300 shoeboxes and this year the charity hopes to break the 100million barrier.
Peter Watson, who helps co-ordinate the Sunderland collection, said the shoeboxes will be heading for Serbia and Romania in late November and early December from the city warehouse.
He said: “Last year, more than 100 volunteers worked in the Sunderland warehouse collecting, checking and packing more than 14,300 shoeboxes for export.
“Nationally, Samaritan’s Purse sent more than 1.1million shoeboxes to 14 countries, bringing joy and hope into the lives of poor children whose lives have been devastated by war, natural disasters and poverty. Many of these children would not have received a gift at Christmas time.
“We have contacted many schools, churches, businesses and individuals, and it is hoped that this year is another record year. In the past the people of Sunderland have been extremely generous in their support of this project.
“Once again, Samaritan’s Purse would like to thank Sunderland City Council for its wonderful gesture of providing a warehouse for the duration of the campaign.”
Jack O’Kane, Tyne and Wear operations supervisor for Operation Christmas Child, said: “The challenge for us now is to grow Tyne and Wear’s contribution to this global programme, so we’re asking everyone across the region to help us achieve that.
“We are already finding many individuals and groups are creatively going the extra mile in a number of ways including hosting coffee mornings, special concerts and shoebox parties. It’s a great way to get people together and pack their shoeboxes and it’s really helping us towards our 100million challenge.”
Samaritan’s Purse is also asking everyone to email photographs of themselves with the shoeboxes they’ve packed, which will form a giant mosaic on the charity’s Facebook page of a child overseas holding their gift.
Jack said: “We hope this will help people visualise the impact of what each person’s shoebox can achieve in the life of a child. It’s not about the 100million number that’s so significant, but that each individual child will know that someone in the UK cares about them this Christmas.”
Visit www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk for instructions on how to complete a gift-filled shoebox.
Shoeboxes can be dropped off until November 23:
Bethany City Church, Stockton Road.
Bridge Books and Music, 14 North Bridge Street.
Shoezone, 60 High Street West.
Smith Shoes, Sea Road.
Operation Christmas Child Warehouse, 7 The Parade, Hendon.
Centre Manager’s Office, Unit A, The Galleries.
Shoezone, The Galleries.
St George’s Church, Vigo Lane.
Bethany Christian Centre, Hetton Road.
Houghton Methodist Church.
Shoezone, Castle Dene Shopping Centre.