MORE THAN 1,400 gift-filled shoeboxes from across West Sussex will be opened by vulnerable children in Bosnia, Crimea, Kenya, Montenegro and Swaziland as part of Operation Christmas Child today (December 25).
The shoeboxes have been donated by individuals, schools, businesses, churches and organisations located in communities including Arundel, Bognor Regis, Chichester, Lancing, Littlehampton, Petworth, Pulborough, Shoreham, Steyning and Worthing.
Teams of volunteers in the Operation Christmas Child processing centres at Eastleigh and Horsham worked long hours collecting, checking and loading the shoeboxes for transportation.
West Sussex Regional Manager for Operation Christmas Child, Roger Fenton, says: “We’ve had shoeboxes from all over West Sussex – quite fantastic! It’s tremendous to see such kindness, particularly at a time when the economic downturn is hitting so many people. Everyone who has donated a shoebox can be absolutely certain that it will have a very positive impact on the child who receives it.
“These children often receive nothing else at Christmas and many are living in really difficult situations, ranging from street shelters or orphanages to children’s homes or hospital. Some do live with their families but even then we see children living in very harsh conditions, simply because the families are so poor.
“It might be difficult for someone to appreciate what a few toys, some toiletries and education items mean, but the children are so appreciative. What’s also fascinating is that they often get their shoebox and share things out with each other.
“We’ve had some great support from the public locally and from our volunteers who work so hard. I wish everyone could see the smiles on the children’s faces when they get their shoebox – it makes you appreciate how the simple act of someone here sending a shoebox to an unknown child really is a very personal, and important, act of kindness.
“On behalf of Operation Christmas Child I would like to say thank you to everyone in West Sussex who took part. It’s our twenty first year and we are so grateful for every shoebox that has ever been donated – we know each one brings happiness to the child who receives it.”