APPEAL: Fill shoeboxes full of presents

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As shops are displaying Christmas stock, our thoughts turn to those who are less fortunate.

Operational Christmas Child has been going for 26 years. A simple, gift-filled box demonstrates our love for needy children overseas.

You take a shoebox, cover it in Christmas paper and fill it with items appropriate for the age of the child.

It can include hats, gloves, scarves, soap, toothpaste, stationery, wrapped sweets and a toy. Not suitable are liquids, chocolate and war items, such as soldiers and guns, as children have seen war at first-hand. Books with pictures are fine, but not with a lot of words as the children cannot read English. We do not put anything of a religious nature into boxes.

Some organisations do not complete full boxes, but give us items to make them up, for which we are very grateful.

Supporters have been invited to include a donation to cover the cost of processing and transportation. We ask, where possible, for a donation of £5 per box. However, we are grateful for any amount. Last year we had 288 boxes without a donation.

In 2017 Operation Christmas Child delivered more than 11 million shoebox gifts to 160 countries, with 678,000 from the UK and 4,000 from Northumberland, which we sent to Romania. We are always trying to increase this number.

Boxes can be dropped off at Shoezone shops in Ashington, Cramlington and Blyth, and Handi Stationery in Alnwick. Schools and churches are also drop-off points, as well as our processing centre. We have a team of drivers who volunteer to collect boxes.

Our processing centre is at Doxford Place Methodist Church in Cramlington. We are grateful to the Rev Una McLean, who has kindly agreed to let us have these premises. We will be open Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm, from November 6 until November 21.

If you would like to help, or just wish to see what we do, please visit us.

Carol Nelson,

Operation Christmas Child