THE festive season might still be several months away, but a charity is encouraging you to do your Christmas shopping now, and help give presents to children who otherwise wouldn’t have them.
Operation Christmas Child, the annual appeal organised by Samaritan’s Purse, is collecting shoeboxes filled with goodies that can be sent to needy children in Eastern Europe and some African countries.
Local organiser John Fung said: “Try to imagine what it would be like not to receive any Christmas gifts. Imagine what it would have been like when you were a child! This is the reality for many children in the world and is a situation that Operation Christmas Child does something to remedy.”
The charity produces a leaflet that contains step-by-step instructions for filling a shoebox by mid-November, to ensure children get their presents in time for December 25.
“Everyone, both adults and children alike, can join the fun: churches and Sunday schools/youth groups, schools, organisations like Scouts, WIs, local businesses and offices, friends and neighbours,” John said.
“Most people feel the joy is a real two-way thing and get a great deal of pleasure from imagining the joy they are giving to an individual child.”
John’s tips for filling boxes include looking for suitable gifts at fetes and bargain shops, toiletries from holidays can be saved (apart from liquids and breakable items) and you can keep an eye out for Olympic merchandise that has been reduced.
And Operation Christmas Child says that knitters can get clicking with their needles.
“We can never have too many hats, scarves and gloves for the boxes, so please do get those needles clicking,” he said. “No hand-knitted stuffed toys though, thank you, as they can cause a problem with customs officials in some countries.”
Hand puppets are popular, said John.
Patterns to make these, as well as hats, bags, snakes and others, can be found on www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk.
Operation Christmas Child also has a range of free resources for church services, group meetings and school lessons including a short presentation and a DVD. For details, email email@example.com, or call 0870 011 2002 or 01392 455 036.