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More than 35,000 shoeboxes were sent to underprivileged children in Eastern Europe from a warehouse in Woodford Green as part of a Christmas campaign.

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Operation Christmas Child run by charity Samaritan’s Purse, sent the boxes filled with presents from their site in Southend Road.

The majority of the boxes were sent to Serbia, Ukraine and Belarus with a further 2,000 still waiting to be shipped from the warehouse.

Carole Clarke, London regional manager, said: “We try and get most of them there before Christmas. The children are absolutely blown away by the fact that someone miles away cares about them.”

The boxes are sent to various orphanages, hospitals and charities abroad which then redistribute them to those most in need.

“Many of them have not received a present before and here they have a box of goods all for them,” she added.

About 300 people have volunteers to check, sort and pack the shoeboxes which contained small items such as toys and cosmetics.

Ms Clarke said that many people had chosen to volunteer for the charity as part of a corporate sponsored day.

She said: “We have had lots of volunteers from the corporate sector this year, lots of banks. They get into it and it’s very humbling to realise how little some people have and how much we have here. They all worked very hard.”

She said usually most of the donations come from churches and schools but having the volunteers from businesses was very valuable.

“It’s been a very positive experience for everyone involved with it,” she said. “It’s great that companies are involved. Many wanted to know if there was a warehouse near where they lived.”

The Woodford Green warehouse opened on the first of November and Ms Clarke said the remaining boxes will be sent within days so the clear up can begin.

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