Wigan charity hopes to spread festive joy by collecting shoeboxes filled with gifts

A Wigan charity is collecting shoeboxes filled with gifts for people who are struggling to afford presents this Christmas.
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The Shoebox Fairies was started three years ago by Wigan Infirmary neonatal nurse Claire Hayward and Dr Emma Thornton, who used Facebook to ask for gifts for people in poverty in the hope it would brighten their day.

They had previously supported Manchester Street Angels’ Christmas box campaign, but after receiving a lot of interest, they founded Shoebox Fairies and it was registered as an official charity.

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The following year they received 730 shoeboxes, which was more than triple the amount donated the year before.

The appeal has gone from strength to strength each year and hundreds of boxes have been distributed to people in need.

The charity runs other projects to make a difference throughout the year, including mother and baby boxes for new mums in difficult circumstances and new beginnings boxes for people fleeing domestic abuse and those seeking asylum.

Chair of trustees Emma Thornton said: “What we do is a very small part of a bigger picture. We’re really fortunate to work with incredible people who are helping people through a difficult time.”

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The deadline for donating a box is Sunday November 26 and that is when the hard work really starts for Emma and the other volunteers.

“We have to check all of the shoeboxes to make sure all of the items are suitable,” Emma said.

People across Wigan are being asked to fill their own shoeboxes with gifts so they can be distributed to families who really need them this Christmas.

Ideal items include toys and educational resources such as books and stationery, confectionary like sweets and chocolate, knitwear and accessories such as hats and gloves to keep warm, and hygiene products including bath products, deodorant and lip balm.

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There are multiple places around the borough where the boxes can be taken when they are packed and wrapped. They are: AD Kitchens, Wigan; FPS Accountants, Ashton; Top Grades Tuition Centre, Standish; Plough and Harrow, Shevington; Image Institute, Golborne; The Coffee Stop, Leigh; Impressions Uniform, Standish; and Ashland House, Ince.

More information can be found on the Shoebox Fairies’ website and Facebook page.