At Birtley, the popular annual activity of filling shoe boxes with gifts to send to needy children around the world heralds the start of the preparations for Christmas.
Thanks to the generosity of our residents, staff, familes and friends, we always amass a huge pile of hand-knitted hats and matching gloves, stationery items, toys, sweets, toothbrushes and soaps, brushes and combs. We also have to provide a minimum donation of £3 per box to pay for the distribution. Each box is filled and then clearly labeled with whether the contents are suitable for a boy or a girl, and the age range of that child.
Since 1990, Samaritan's Purse, who run Operation Christmas Child, have distributed filled shoe boxes to over 113 million needy boys and girls in over 130 countries around the world.
An incredible 40 shoe boxes were filled on the afternoon, but with plenty of spare contents left over its likely that the total will rise!