Christmas is on its way to children in Belarus thanks to kind-hearted South Tynesiders.
This year’s Operation Christmas Child project saw 9,374 shoeboxes filled with gifts sent to youngsters in Minsk, in Belarus.
People from the borough came together with others from Gateshead and parts of Sunderland to beat last year’s total of 9,309.
The scheme is organised each year by Samaritan’s Purse to send packages, containing toys, clothes, toiletries and sweets to children who may not receive a gift otherwise.
Carol Hall, area co-ordinator for South Tyneside and Gateshead, headed up a ceremony yesterday as the lorry set off for its eight-day and 1,700 mile journey to Belarus from the project’s base in Holystone Industrial Estate, Jarrow.
Carol said: “It was a fantastic feeling seeing all those boxes going off to Belarus.
It’s going to put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces when they realise that they’re cared for.Carol Hall, area co-ordinator for South Tyneside and Gateshead
“It’s going to put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces when they realise that they’re cared for.
“Our love has gone in that lorry and it’s an awful lot of love.
“A lot of those children wouldn’t receive a gift if it wasn’t for the kind people who take time to put together a shoebox.”
The Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, and his wife Patricia, attended a ceremony held before the send-off, and children from Abacus Nursery, in Hebburn, sang for all who were there.
Members of the Firemen’s Trust and Tynemouth TA helped out by packing the shoeboxes into the lorry.
Last year, 10,440,333 shoeboxes were handed over in from people around the globe.