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Weekly Edition - Published 14 November 2015


Local News Report - Mobile Page


Operation Christmas Child swings into action at Golden Square Shopping Centre

WARRINGTON shoe shop staff are preparing to welcome boxes packed with Christmas goodies for crisis hit youngsters around the globe, including Syria. Shoe Zone at Golden Square Shopping Centre is the town's drop off point for Operation Christmas Child; now in its 25th year. The charity sends millions of shoe boxes full of toys, sweets and treats to youngsters around the world to help them celebrate the festivities. Shoe Zone stores around the UK are all helping the charity by collecting parcels for their local branches, plus giving empty shoe boxes to be filled.

Usually up to 100 Operation Christmas Child (OCC) boxes are handed into the Warrington store, said manager Diane Norton said:- "We save all our empty show boxes from now on and anyone who wants to come and collect one to fill is welcome. Then between November 1 and 18 they can bring the filled boxes back to us and the Operation Christmas Child team will deliver them."

This year the charity has pre-wrapped boxes available for a £3 donation; though shoppers can also use their own empty shoe boxes; and can be filled with appropriate gifts for a boy or girl aged between the age of 2 and 14.

"The number of boxes handed in varies from year to year. Sometimes we have a school or nursery come in and take 30 boxes in one go, so it depends on that really but it always goes down well. I think any charity to do with children does well, especially when you hear the stories from places like Syria at the moment. It's just heart wrenching and people want to help however they can."
said Diane, a mother, who lives in Runcorn.

Golden Square Shopping Centre director Ian Cox praised shoppers for supporting Operation Christmas Child. He said:- "As a dad I know how much pleasure children get from opening presents at any time of year, not just Christmas. These shoeboxes will be treasured by the youngsters who receive them, while the memory that somebody, many miles away in the UK, took a moment to consider their plight will stay with them for years. I know every year that a large number of Golden Square shoppers take the time and trouble to fill shoeboxes with a collection of gifts; I'd like to thank them for their kindness and generosity."

Operation Christmas Child was started 25 years ago by David Cooke in North Wales, who saw TV programme Challenge Anneka and decided he could set something up himself.

He started filling boxes and driving them over to Romania himself but people caught on and the idea evolved to such an extent that he could no longer manage it himself. Charity Samaritan's Purse stepped in to run the operation and have continued to grow the project year on year.

Samaritan's Purse north west regional manager Ian Taylor welcomed the support of the Shoe Zone team at the Golden Square Shopping Centre. He said:- "I go to a lot of stores and collect up a lot of boxes and I have to say that every time I am so impressed with the helpful and considerate nature of the staff at Shoe Zone. They couldn't be more positive and willing to help. We've always had a great response through Shoe Zone over many years and I'm sure that this year will be no exception at Golden Square. It's great to have them on board."

Shoe Zone's involvement with Operation Christmas Child has been fundamental in helping the charity distribute hundreds of thousands of boxes across the globe.

Boxes can be filled with appropriate gifts for boys or girls between the age of two and 14, and the charity in particular are keen to support boys between 10 and 14, who often get overlooked.

Suggestions for this age group include pencils, a calculator, note pad or tape measure which can often help them not only get a gift but learn a trade.

Diane explained:- "All sorts of things are welcome and people should remember that although a few essentials like soap and a hair brush can be nice, ideally it should be a box with a sense of fun; something that makes the child smile. Little cuddly toys and games and some sweets alongside the practical items. Giving something to write with and something to write on means that the gift of a shoe box can open doors and enable children to go to school in some parts of the world. Sometime people struggle to remember that it's a great way of celebrating Christmas when we are surrounded by kids set on getting the latest piece of technology or whatever. It is so important to remember that there are children in the world who have witnessed incredibly awful things and let them know that there are people out there."

Anyone wanting to support Operation Christmas Child can call in to Shoe Zone at the Golden Square Shopping Centre and collect a box to fill with gifts for a child in need.

Click on here to see more photographs taken at these events as well as video footage.


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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