Wigan festive mission to help some of Europe's poorest youngsters

Thousands of festive packages have been dispatched from Wigan borough to needy children in eastern Europe.

Friday, 6th November 2020, 7:42 am
Updated Friday, 6th November 2020, 7:50 am

This week 5,000 Christmas Shoeboxes - filled with school supplies, hygiene items and toys – left King’s Park Christian Centre in Leigh on their journey to vulnerable youngsters in Belarus.

The boxes were ordered online by donors across the UK, but all were tailored and packed by volunteers in Leigh and surrounding areas.

Operation Christmas Child is run by international children’s charity Samaritan’s Purse. Due to the pandemic, their digital offering of packing a tailored and personalised shoebox online has boomed, and thanks to the local volunteers the first batch of individual boxes are now on their eight-day trek to Belarus. For many children who will receive them, these gifts are the first they will ever receive.

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Some of the boxes being packed onto the lorry

The operation’s North West manager Tracy Berry said: “While the pandemic endures, we must continue to remember the most vulnerable in society, whether they are in our local area or in tough circumstances around the world. My hope is that children across the globe will find joy this Christmas through the small offering of a Christmas Shoebox. It’s humbling to know that residents of Leigh and surrounding areas can make a difference to a child somewhere who’s struggling.”

Research conducted by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by Samaritan’s Purse, highlighted that 75 per cent of those surveyed believed that children needed to feel loved this Christmas more than ever due to the impact of Covid-19, and 79 per cent of UK adults agree that they believe all children should receive at least one present at Christmas despite their circumstances.

Tracy said that she had expected only around 3,000 boxes this year due to the pandemic but had to get more volunteers in when predictions proved wrong. Depending on Government guidelines, more boxes could yet be sent.

Find out more about packing a Christmas Shoebox online here: http://www.shoeboxonline.org.uk/

Volunteers pack the boxes with gifts

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Tracy Berry with an example of the boxes' contents
The lorry is loaded up