An annual initiative that sends gifts from South Tyneside to needy children overseas by truck, is reaching full throttle – thanks to two vital new donations.
The Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, also known as the Shoebox Appeal, has hit top gear after money was donated to pay for transport costs.
Organisers plan to send a wagon, loaded with thousands of shoeboxes filled with presents, to a destination in Eastern Europe to give children a festive season they will never forget.
And they have been helped on their way by Jarrow milkman Kevin Dent and Michael Hanover, of Blaydon-based Hanover Dairies, who presented cheques to cover fuel costs for what is likely to be a round trip of around 1,500 miles.
The pair are long-time supporters of the appeal, which was launched in South Tyneside by Carol Hall in 1991 – the year after it began nationally - and has extended to also cover Gateshead.
Area coordinator Carol, 64, a mum-of-two from Jarrow, said: “I very grateful to Michael and Kevin for their invaluable support.
“Their very significant and generous backing will greatly help us with our transport costs.
“Their generosity reflects the great support this initiative gets every year from the people of South Tyneside.
“The economic climate is hard at the moment, but every gift we get outs a smile on the face of a child.”
Last year, the appeal collected 9,254 shoeboxes, packed with goodies including hats, scarves, gloves, toys, sweets and toiletries, that were delivered to children in the Romanian city of Cluj.
The appeal’s best ever total was 12,000 boxes delivered – and tally Carol hopes will one year be beaten.
In all, a team of 40 volunteers support the initiative, which includes speaking in school assemblies to inform children about the importance of the project and to publicise its aims.
Schools from across South Tyneside have supported this year’s appeal, as have businesses, churches and other organisations, and individuals.
The truck’s destination will be confirmed by the appeal’s national organisers in the coming weeks.
Donations can be made until Wednesday, November 29, at a shop next door to Coopland Bakery at Jarrow’s Viking Centre, or Unit 24 of the town’s Royal Industrial Estate, off Blackett Street.
The truck is expected to leave South Tyneside on Tuesday, December 5.
More information on donating is available from Carol on 07742 017 314.