Campaign to help needy children

AN annual charity campaign to help disadvantaged children around the world during the festive season has been launched.

Operation Christmas Child is looking for people to donate shoeboxes filled with gifts for children living in abject poverty.

Roger Fenton, East Sussex regional manager for Operation Christmas Child, said: “This is our 21st year and the level of support from across the county is vital to the continued success of the project, and we know we can count on people’s big-heartedness even in difficult economic times.

“Last year we received shoeboxes from supporters in a wide range of communities, including Battle, Bexhill, Hastings, St Leonards and the rest of East Sussex. More than 3,500 gift-filled shoeboxes were distributed to vulnerable children in Belarus, Bosnia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Swaziland.

“With 2012 being an Olympic year, we are asking supporters to think about including some sporting items, such as a tennis ball, baseball cap or skipping rope in their shoeboxes, as many children are inspired by sport even when life is hard.

“Our main aim is to bring some happiness and hope at Christmas to tens of thousands of youngsters, many of whom live in very difficult conditions including displaced persons camps, street shelters or in hospital.”

Operation Christmas Child started in 1990, helping children who were living in terrible conditions in Romanian orphanages in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ceausescu regime.

Anyone wishing to participate in this year’s shoebox campaign should visit or contact the Helpline on 0870 011 2002.

Shoeboxes should be ready by November 18.