Wiltshire's Operation Christmas Child totals 23,129 shoeboxes

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Organiser Hilary McFall at the Bowerhill depot, on the outskirts of Melksham Organiser Hilary McFall at the Bowerhill depot, on the outskirts of Melksham

Following a late flurry of activity, this year’s Operation Christmas Child appeal total resulted in 23,129 shoeboxes being sent to needy children in eastern Europe and Africa.

Donations for the annual shoebox appeal, which is co-ordinated by the Samaritan’s Purse charity, finished last week, with people across the county dropping off boxes to allotted drop-off points throughout November.

Last week, a lorry loaded with 9,608 boxes left the depot in Bowerhill for Belarus, while another with 10,047 set off for Romania.

The final lorry, loaded with 3,474 shoeboxes, left for Bosnia last Thursday.

Last year, people across the county donated more than 25,000 gift-wrapped shoeboxes, and area co-ordinator Hilary McFall is delighted that this year's effort nearly matched that figure.

She said: “I’m very pleased with the total we managed to achieve this year. It’s another great effort and way above my expectations.

“The appeal always brings everybody together, as anyone can donate a box. We did have a record breaking year last year and while we didn’t quite manage to top it, it has been another triumph.

“People that have been coming in have been so nice and cheery and we have had a great time. It’s just an amazing thing to be involved with.

“We would like to thank everyone who donated shoeboxes or helped out this year, as it wouldn’t happen without them.”

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