Children spread Christmas joy at Sudbury Santa’s grotto

GRAND RESULT: Shoeboxes galore as the team comes together for a group shot.
GRAND RESULT: Shoeboxes galore as the team comes together for a group shot.
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Hundreds of schoolchildren are helping to send Christmas gifts to those less fortunate as part of the annual Shoebox appeal.

Around 25 schools from the Sudbury area have visited the town’s branch of Operation Christmas Child, which is run by Samaritan’s Purse.

Presents packed with toys, toiletries and sweets are being housed at the operation’s base, at a warehouse on Chilton Industrial Estate, ready to be sent to underprivileged children in eastern Europe.

Youngsters from Great Waldingfield Primary School and Pot Kiln Primary School in Great Cornard have already visited the warehouse with their carefully-packed shoeboxes.

Nena Harding, Sudbury co-ordinator for Samaritan’s Purse, said more than 5,000 parcels had already been collected.

“I have been doing this for 18 years and I am always thrilled by the generosity of people who give shoeboxes,” said Miss Harding, from Bulmer.

“Last year, we sent off 11,000 boxes and we would love to beat that.”

The appeal is run from a 20,000 square foot warehouse supplied by builder’s merchant Ridgeons. The company stepped forward to help the appeal two years ago when it was in desperate need of a base.

“The kindness of Ridgeons to let us use the building over this period is absolutely amazing,” said Miss Harding.

“The warehouse is a gift from them, and the schoolchildren provide the gift of shoeboxes.”

The parcels are due to be dispatched this week in order to reach youngsters in Belarus in time for Christmas.

Anyone wanting to donate filled shoeboxes can drop them off at the warehouse or at Bizzibeans cafe in Long Melford.