Last year, a staggering 7,100 filled shoeboxes for less fortunate children were generously donated by the people of the Ballymena area who responded to the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal.
The 2016 Appeal has now swung into action and the hope is that the local response will be better than ever.
The project from Samaritans Purse began collecting filled shoeboxes for less fortunate children in 1993. Since then over 130 million gift filled shoeboxes have been donated and gratefully received by children who are in need across the world.
Last year’s boxes went to Ukraine and Romania and Northern Ireland Regional Manager for Operation Christmas Child was in Eastern Europe to distribute shoeboxes last December. Darryl Nesbitt, who recently took up the role, said: “It was a great privilege and honour to be welcomed by the Eastern European people and to see the excitement and the joy that a shoebox brings to a child in need.
“The excitement in the room was electric, the children literally waited on the edge of their seat in anticipation of what they would receive. Once the children received their shoebox they quickly ran back to their seats and you could see the shoebox lid fly open and children stare in awe at what they had received. I saw children jump for joy and embrace their gifts, one little boy kissed his shoebox as he received it.”
The impact of the shoebox was very evident to Darryl as soon as he arrived. He said: “I arrived and was greeted by one of Operation Christmas Childs International Field Workers, Daniela. On the bus journey from the airport she described that 20 years ago she received a shoebox. I could still see the joy in her eyes that the shoebox brought her, 20 years on.”
If this year you would like to generously donate a gift filled shoebox to a needy child you can leave it at McMillan Interiors 53a Loan Road, Cullybackey BT42 1PS, up until November 18, Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm, or at your local Shoe Zone shoe shop which also collect the gift filled shoeboxes on behalf of Operation Christmas Child.
Instructions on what you can put in the shoebox and information about the appeal are available through the Samaritan’s Purse website www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/operation-christmas-child/how-to-pack-a-shoebox/