National Shoebox Collection week launches in UK

Annual Christmas shoebox project Operation Christmas Child (OCC) – run by leading Christian international relief and development agency Samaritan’s Purse – is kicking off in the UK this week with the launch of National Shoebox Collection Week. The project seeks to bring joy and hope to vulnerable, isolated children, many of whom are living in some of the most difficult circumstances worldwide.

Over 1,000 churches, schools, and local businesses across the UK will be opening their doors for the public to drop off their shoeboxes. Together with shoebox collections in other sending countries, children from over 100 countries will receive a shoebox through the help of 80,000 local churches. Despite the pandemic, OCC was able to safely deliver shoeboxes to over nine million children living in challenging conditions in 2020, including in Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Nigeria, and Liberia.

Nick Cole, UK Director of Operation Christmas Child, said:

Packing shoeboxes is a fun activity for individuals, families, organisations, and churches that can make a real difference in the lives of children who are facing some of the most trying situations imaginable. We must remember to love and look out for the most vulnerable in our societies and we are proud of the resilience the OCC community has shown in safely bringing joy and hope to children during the pandemic.

To ensure that children could receive the shoeboxes during lockdown, OCC volunteers in a church in Poland gave out shoeboxes to 300 children by running 12 events for five children each over five consecutive weekends. In Moldova, where gatherings were banned, OCC volunteers visited children individually door-to-door.

Though National Shoebox Collection Week will be ending on November 22, individuals will still be able to pack a shoebox online up until Christmas Eve. Shoebox Online enables people to pack tailored and personalised shoeboxes with a range of age-appropriate, fun, hygienic and educational gifts, as well as the opportunity to include a personal note to the recipient.

Nick Cole continued:

We recognise that there are a lot of people out there who wish to participate in National Shoebox Collection Week but lack the time or resources to pack a shoebox. Shoebox Online is a quick and easy way to get involved and bring joy to a child who might not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas. In some cases, it will be the first gift the child has ever received.

Ana-Maria Goia from Romania, who received a shoebox as a child and now lives in the UK, said: “’For me, this shoebox was a reminder that God is real and that I’m not alone. I considered it a miracle from God through which I experienced his love and that he cared about me and my brothers and everything we needed. This gift in the form of a shoebox gave me hope when I needed it most and changed my life completely.”

To get involved visit https://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/ and find your local drop-off point, or take five minutes out of your day to pack a shoebox online.

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