Wigan medics become Shoebox Fairies to help people this Christmas

A doctor and nurse who usually help patients at Wigan Infirmary have found a new way to make a difference this Christmas.
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Neonatal nurse Claire Hayward and Dr Emma Thornton have decided to get involved in a shoebox appeal and are collecting donations for people in need.

They hope people across the borough will show their support by giving presents for the festive appeal.

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Claire, who lives in Abram, said: “I was looking for something to do with my eldest child to teach her about charity. We were looking at shoebox appeals but they all went abroad and we wanted to do something local.

Claire Hayward and Emma ThorntonClaire Hayward and Emma Thornton
Claire Hayward and Emma Thornton

“We found the Manchester Street Angels’ Christmas box appeal which has been running since 2016 and decided to get involved. I think they are struggling - because of the coronavirus restrictions a lot of the drop-off points are closed, so we wanted to help.”

Claire and Emma decided to collect donations in Wigan and set up a Facebook group named the Shoebox


Claire said the response in just two weeks had been “overwhelming”, with more than 400 people joining the group and donations pouring


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It became clear there were too many items to keep at their homes and the businesses that initially offered to act as drop-off points had to close due to the coronavirus lockdown.

But fortunately The Storage Team Wigan has since donated a unit where the gifts can be kept.

People are encouraged to make up a shoebox filled with items for someone who may have nothing else to open on Christmas Day.

The shoeboxes can be made for people of all ages - babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, young adults and the elderly - and even dogs!

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They should contain age-appropriate items, which can be both necessities and little luxuries.

The appeal is also collecting boxes of essentials for homeless people.

Emma and Claire hope Wigan businesses will get involved by donating items for the boxes and have already received children’s toys from CGK Toys.

They have also had interest from pre-schools and Scout groups and hope more schools and nurseries will decide to help out.

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Donations can be made until 4pm on November 21, which will then allow time for the gifts to be distributed to vulnerable people in time for Christmas.

To find out more about the appeal and to make a donation, search for Shoebox Fairies on Facebook.

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