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WITH 23,129 gift-filled shoeboxes being sent to communities stricken by poverty, the volunteers behind Operation Christmas Child have given their thanks to everybody who did their bit for the appeal this year.
Three lorries containing thousands of shoeboxes have been loaded from the Operation Christmas Child depot in Bowerhill, Melksham, destined for Belarus.
The appeal asks people to donate a box filled with toys, paper, toothbrushes, sweets, gloves and other items. There are around 150 people on the books who volunteer at the warehouse in the lead up to Christmas, to spend time putting the finishing touches to thousands of shoeboxes donated by people across Wiltshire and the surrounding area.
Hundreds more volunteers give up their time from the surrounding area to help spread Christmas joy to children who would not otherwise receive any gifts.
Regional coordinator Hilary Mcfall from Melksham said, “It is wonderful knowing that those children will receive a Christmas present this year because of the hard work of so many people in the local area.
“We just want to thank everyone who has been a part of the appeal this year. It’s been wonderful and we are all thrilled with the response. There are so many people that make this all possible, from the coverage we receive in Melksham News to all the volunteers at the depot and of course those people who take the time to collect in the shoeboxes and put them together.”
This year marks the 21st anniversary that Hilary has been at the helm of the Melksham Operation Christmas Child initiative. In the Melksham branch’s first year of collecting shoeboxes, they delivered around 40 shoeboxes to disadvantaged children. Hilary says that this amount increased steadily over the 20 years, thanks to the help of the volunteers and the people of Melksham.
When the shoeboxes touch down in the countries they are going to, they will be distributed by volunteers via bike, hand or cart.
Local primary schools in and around Melksham have supported the appeal, as well as local businesses and individuals.