The annual ‘shoebox’ campaign led by the Salvation Army – ‘Operation Christmas Child’ is the world’s largest children’s Christmas project. Since 1990 the project has sent a message of Christmas joy from the UK to more than 60 million boys and girls throughout the world.
The last month has seen the 2008 campaign in full swing with homes, schools, workplaces and community groups throughout the land ransacking their cupboards to locate any shoe boxes that haven’t made their way into the recycling bin or (like mine) been stashed away at the top of the wardrobe! Regular participants, however, will have been hoarding their boxes all year, just waiting for November to arrive and many children plan for weeks what they will spend their pocket money on, to make sure they can buy things that boys and girls their own age will like.
The shoe boxes are covered with Christmas wrap, given a special label and filled with small toys, school supplies, sweets and other gifts, to be hand delivered to children in hospitals, orphanages, refugee camps, homeless shelters and impoverished neighbourhoods.
Footage of the boxes being delivered is often recorded and relayed back to the UK so that folks back home can see for themselves the joy this modest gesture can bring.
129 temporary warehouses run by volunteers throughout the UK coordinate the collection of the boxes before they are sent on their journey to 13 countries across Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa. Last year, 1.3 million shoe boxes were sent, letting each child know that somebody cares about them at this special time of year. Hopefully 2008 is set to become the most successful year yet!
Details of some of the wonderful stories can be found on: www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk