Time to start thinking of boxing clever

THE festive season might still be three months away, but North Tynesiders are being urged to get ready to help Operation Christmas Child by filling shoeboxes with gifts for needy children in poorer countries.

This year’s campaign in Tyneside will be launched by the Samaritan’s Purse charity on Saturday, and to mark 2012 being an Olympic year, contributors are being encouraged to include sporting items among their gifts.

Regional operations supervisor for Operation Christmas Child, Jack O’Kane said: “We are one of the UK’s largest annual children’s charity projects, distributing over a million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children at Christmastime last year.

“2011 is the 21st year of Operation Christmas Child, and support from across the country is vital to the continued success of the project.

“We know we can count on people’s big-heartedness even in difficult economic times.

“As well as supporters putting in welcome Christmas gifts and educational items, we hope that they may include something like a tennis ball, skipping rope, baseball hat, small football, inflatable beach ball, stopwatch, sweatbands or other sports-related gifts.”

To take part in this year’s shoebox campaign, visit www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk or call 0870 011 2002. A £2.50 contribution is requested towards the cost of shipping.

Shoeboxes have to be ready for collection by Friday, November 18.