PILES of presents will soon be winging their way to disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe thanks to a Hartlepool church.
Members of St George’s Church and supporters have collected enough gifts to fill 110 shoe boxes as part of the Samaritan’s Purse annual appeal.
They smashed their target of 100 boxes after supporters rallied round.
Members of the church have been busy knitting hats, gloves, and scarves to go inside the gift packages along with soft toys.
They also contain little luxuries such as stationary and toiletries.
The national appeal aims to make sure that more than a million children around the world know that they are loved and not forgotten at Christmas.
Aileen Whittaker, appeal co-ordinator at St George’s Church in Park Road, Hartlepool, said: “I think 110 boxes is a tremendous achievement. A lot of people have knitted and contributed. It has been a wonderful community effort.”
Children helped cover the boxes in festive wrapping while many non-church members donated money to help send the boxes by airmail.
It costs £2.50 to send each shoe box.
All the boxes were prepared for their long journey at a mammoth pack up night last week.
The church does not know where their care parcels are destined for but will get a letter from the charity later.
They generally go to poor children in Eastern Europe, Africa and Central Asia.
Aileen added: “I’m sure they make a big difference.
“Last year they went to Romania and they tell us where our batch will go.
“It is a national appeal and they are appealing for more this year.
“They have to get out early because they have a long journey.”
Operation Christmas Child, run through the Samaritan’s Purse Christian charity, is the world’s largest children’s Christmas project.
It has been sending gift-filled boxes to needy children since 1990.