Filling shoeboxes to bring smiles at Christmas

Operation Christmas Child 2012 has been launched for its eighth year in our diocese and is asking churches and community groups to help bring a smile to the face of a child in Africa or Eastern Europe this Christmas. Anyone can help...

... all you need is an empty shoe box, cover it with Christmas wrapping paper and fill it with small gifts. Advice on which gifts to choose can be found on the Samaritans Purse UK web site at www.samaritans-purse.org.uk

The Bishop of Wakefield at the packing warehouse

The warehouse will reopen in St James’s Church, Meltham Mills on 5 November to check the donated gift filled shoeboxes and local OCC representative Judith Powell is asking for volunteers.

 “Last year 11,300 boxes left Meltham for Swaziland, Romania and Belarus. With your help we can send even more this year. We need volunteers in the warehouse for the whole of November. Training will be given.

“There are lots of jobs for young (aged 16 plus) and old and the warehouse will open Monday to Thursday 10am – 6pm Fridays 10am – 8pm and Saturdays 10am – 12midnight.”

And on 23 November at 7.30pm there will be an Operation Christmas Child shoe box celebration service in St James’s, Meltham Mills, followed by a fish and chip supper. (Order and pay when you arrive). For more details contact Revd Peter Rolls on 01484 340342. Or contact Judith on 01484 859460.

Get your church registered with Operation Christmas Child and you can receive a pile of leaflets, posters and DVD.
Go to  www.samaritans-purse.org.uk or phone 01392 455036


Andrea Robinson is one of hundreds of volunteers across the diocese involved in filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and in 2009 she achieved a long held dream when she travelled to Kyrgyzstan to help give out the boxes to some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged children.

Read her story ...

Hundreds of volunteers are involved in Operation Christmas Child and work all year round sticking, packing, filling, sourcing, wrapping and collecting shoeboxes to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to children in need in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Run by the international charity, Samaritan’s Purse, it is the largest children’s Christmas project and has been running for 21 years. Last year over 11,000 shoeboxes were sent from this diocese.

Andrea Robinson, from Lockwood, Huddersfield can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been thinking about shoeboxes. She’s spent hours cutting up old Christmas cards to make message tags, wrapping boxes, filling boxes, making Christmas and birthday cards and hundreds of jars of jam and chutneys to sell to raise funds. She’s even roped in her own family. Her mother knitted 421 hats in seven months for the boxes.

Child with a box to open

And she’d always wondered what it would be like to actually see the children’s faces when they opened their box – and that’s exactly what she did when she joined a small team of volunteers on a distribution trip to Kyrgyzstan in central Asia in spring 2009.

Said Andrea: “I still can’t believe I’ve actually been and done it. I’d always been involved with filling shoeboxes ever since my kids have been small and I’ve always thought wouldn’t it be amazing to see the kiddies faces when they open them up, but I never thought it would actually happen.

The team flew to Istanbul and then on to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, a predominantly Islamic country, bordered by Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China. Kyrgyzstan became independent with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is a country rich in oil and gas yet it imports the vast bulk of what it needs so it’s economic situation is dire with high unemployment, widespread poverty and a volatile political situation.

“I had absolutely no idea where in the world it was nor anything about it. I was really struck by its beauty. There were mountain ranges everywhere we travelled and I was constantly reminded that God was with us.

“We met families who walked for miles for their shoebox; children who refused to let go of them, and those who just held onto them without opening them up. I saw a younger child open his box to find paper and pens he immediately gave to his older sister, as he wasn’t at school yet.

Andrea with a famliy outside their home

“We were invited into people’s homes, treated like royalty, offered food they could ill afford. Even the poorest in our country have so much more than people there.

“And one of the phrases that kept coming to me time and time again was “God loves you and you are not forgotten”,” added Andrea.

 “I learned a lot on the trip, but the trip would still have gone ahead without me. I know now I want to go somewhere and build something; a toilet block, a new school, something concrete, something to give back, something so as not to feel simply like an observer,” she said.

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