Volunteers are urging schools and churches to dig a little deeper this year in support of the Samaritanâ€™s Purse Operation Christmas Child campaign, after the collection in the GU postcode area fell by ten percent last year.
A remarkable14,751 boxes were collected from across the area filled with gifts for impoverished children across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, but this was down from 16,326 in 2011 and nationally the number of shoeboxes fell by 13.5 per cent.
Guildford coordinator and member of St Saviourâ€™s Church, Jenny Winter, said that volunteers were busy talking to schools, churches and other community groups across the diocese with the hope of motivating supporters to pack a box with gifts for a young person this autumn â€“ or to buy one online.
She said: â€œOCC is the largest childrenâ€™s Christmas project in the world and the 100th millionth shoebox was delivered last year.
â€œPeople across the diocese are incredibly generous â€“ both in packing boxes and also in terms of the volunteers who give their time to check all of those boxes which come in to our Guildford warehouse.
â€œBut we do understand that for families both money and time can be in limited supply. For those for whom time is an issue we are delighted to say that there is now an online option giving individuals a chance to donate a box without having to source the box or its contents themselves.
â€œHaving delivered boxes myself I can personally vouch for the incredible joy they bring â€“ not only because of the contents but because of the love they signify. That child and that family knows that another family, many miles away, has thought of them and cares enough to send gifts.
â€œThat mandate, to love thy neighbour and to care for the poor and the needy is at the heart of our Christian faith and I would urge everyone to consider putting a box together this autumn.â€
For more details on how you can help contact Jenny Winter on email@example.com or to donate online visit www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk See the full story of Jenny's trip delivering boxes to Kyrgyzstan in the next edition of the diocesan newspaper The Wey, available in churches from October 22.
St Nicolas Church Cranleigh also runs its own shoebox scheme for Romania. The closing date for this yearâ€™s boxes is 17 November, anyone able to help please call Ruth Collins 01483 275792 for a leaflet.