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A little joy is being packed up and sent in a shoebox to thousands of children who may never have received a Christmas present before.

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Volunteers are hard at work packing up and shipping out the shoeboxes as part of the Operation Christmas Child campaign by charity Samaritan’s Purse.

In the last three weeks, volunteers at their warehouse in Southend Road, Woodford Green have sent 10,000 boxes to Serbia with another 4,000 being sent to Belarus today (Thursday).

Emma Darby, 36, north London regional manager at Samaritan’s Purse, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, the children are just excited as some of them have never had a gift before. Getting one from someone in a different country makes them feel cared for.”

Schools, charities and businesses have contributed by making up boxes which contain items like toothbrushes, toy cars or skipping ropes.

Miss Darby said: “It’s a raw, simple expression of love at Christmas time and it’s personal – one person sending a gift to a child in need.”

About 15 people help check that the boxes comply with import and export regulations before packing them into lorries to go overseas.

“Many volunteers have made shoeboxes and wanted to get more involved, from schoolchildren to senior citizens who knit hats for the boxes,” added Miss Darby. “Some have been on trips giving out the boxes and continue to come back and help.”

Miss Darby said that although the campaign is not over, the number of boxes seems to have decreased from last year.

She said: “It’s been really good and the boxes are coming in but possibly less due to the economic climate, but each box is a child that will be blessed so although the numbers are down it’s still a child.”

Donations are being accepted until December 15 and can be dropped off at the Unit 1, Woodford Trading Estate warehouse. You can also make a virtual shoebox online at www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/shoeboxworld.

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