OCCfrom Andy Blakey, SAS TCF

On Sunday at All Saints in John Street, Grays, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Thurrock came to see and hear about Operation Christmas Child. They were joined by Labour’s prospective election candidate, Polly Billington.

Local schools, churches and youth groups have been involved. Over the weekend the centre had been transformed into the processing centre for the Operation Christmas Child’s annual Shoebox appeal.  Over 70 volunteers were involved over the weekend checking the 2000 or more shoeboxes to ensure that they contained the right sort of gifts. Several supermarkets were cleared out of children’s toothpaste.

A short service of thanksgiving was held in All Saints, introduced by Andrew Blakey.  John Dell explained the work of Operation Christmas Child and showed some video clips of the impact these presents have. The service culminated with some songs by local choir Golden Voices.

John  Dell, who has been involved in running the Thurrock Operation Christmas Child, has a dream of filling a lorry with 8000 boxes and then flying out to help at the distribution point.

With Gary Jones, John has been out in Kosovo previously when a lorry arrived, but now he wants to see the whole journey from picking up the shoeboxes in a school, checking them, and then seeing them delivered to needy children.

This year John and Gary took their whole families – four adults and six children – to Kosovo. They took out 30 suitcases of goods to help people, and for 25 euros could buy a food parcel for a family of six for a month, though not the level of food we may enjoy.

Sadly, someone tried to break in to All Saints late on Saturday night to steal from the presents from the shoeboxes being processed.

This was the first of two weekends processing shoeboxes.  The next is 5 to 7 December. If you would like to donate a box it should contain these five categories:

  • Education (colouring pencils, sharpener, rubber paper etc.)
  • Hygiene (soap, flannel, toothpaste, tooth brush)
  • Warmth (hat, scarf, gloves)
  • Treats (sweets but no chocolate)
  • Gifts suitable for a girl or a boy

You can bring filled shoeboxes or gifts to Treasure Children Forever nursery in John Street, Grays.

Photos on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/thurrock-celebrates/sets/72157649390466156/

This article also appears on http://www.thurrock-celebrates.org.uk