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Operation Christmas Child gets into full swing in Melksham

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Hilary, left, with her team of Operation Christmas child volunteers

Hilary, left, with her team of Operation Christmas child volunteers

A DEDICATED group of volunteers have joined together once again to help spread Christmas joy to disadvantaged children across the world.

Each Christmas, the Melksham branch of Operation Christmas Child is responsible for collecting and delivering thousands of shoeboxes to children across the globe, who would not otherwise receive any presents.

The local branch was set up in 1992 by Hilary McFall, who has been at the helm of the operation ever since.

Hilary said, “We really want to encourage as many people to get involved as possible. It really is a fantastic effort by people from right across the region and we fully appreciate what people donate to us. It cannot be underestimated how much it means to the children when they receive their shoebox. In the past, shoeboxes have been sent all across the world including Belarus, Ukraine, Romania and Liberia. In 1992, there was around 47 shoeboxes collected from the Melksham area. Last year, we collected over 25,000 – the operation has grown so much.”

The shoeboxes are stored in the Operation Christmas Child warehouse at Unit 12, Hercules Way in Bowerhill. This year, the shoeboxes will be sent to disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe.

You can start creating your shoeboxes now and drop them into the operation’s warehouse in Bowerhill on Wednesdays between 10.00am and 4.00pm.

Shoebox checking will start on Monday 11th of November from 10.30am until 4.00pm with the first lorry due to leave Melksham on Friday 15th November for the Ukraine.

Following this, a Celebration of Shoeboxes Service at Melksham Baptist Church on Old Broughton Road will take place on Sunday 17th November at 10.30am and all are welcome. Hilary added, “Due to revised regulations we can only accept gifts that will fit into a shoebox. We can no longer receive blankets, jumpers, baby clothes, shoes, or large soft toys. However, items we are short of at the moment are mittens, soap, sweets and toothpaste. I look forward to seeing those interested at the warehouse either at a coffee morning or on a Wednesday sometime soon.”

Volunteers are also available to talk to groups or school assemblies about their work.  If you are interested in volunteering, or would like to book some of the volunteers in for a talk, then pop into the warehouse or call 01225 705775. Additionally, if you would like to order materials for the shoebox appeal you can go to the website www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk