Operation Christmas Child ‘a good news story’

After weeks of hard work involving dozens of volunteers, 6,000 boxes filled with Christmas gifts for needy children were loaded onto a massive container in Limavady on Thursday and shipped overseas to Haiti, writes Sheena Jackson.

The huge effort was part of Operation Christmas Child and North West Co-ordinator, Sharon Jack said the response was overwhelming.

“I’ve been involved for 15 years and we are all volunteers and we collect gift-filled, wrapped shoe boxes from schools, youth organisations, churches and individuals and get them ready for despatch at Aghanloo Community Centre, just outside Limavady. The boxes are then put into large containers and are given to needy children, in Eastern Europe and these are children who usually wouldn’t get a gift at any other time of the year, so it’s hugely important,” Mrs Jack told the Journal. “This year the boxes, 6,000 of them, were loaded into a container and sent to Haiti and the container will stay there and be used as some form of accommodation. In addition to the 6,000 there were another 9,000 boxes that were sent to Romania from other parts of Ireland.”

Mrs. Jack said the boxes contain toys, some warm clothing, a wash cloth, toothpaste and a bag of sweets, among other items.

“We have had a fantastic response this year, especially considering the economic climate and we were very pleased Limavady was one of the depots.”

Involved in loading the boxes at the former Seagate factory on Thursday were 35 male and female volunteers who worked from 10am until lunchtime.

“I have been humbled and moved by it all and I would like to thank everyone who was involved in preparing the boxes and people who donated gifts and anyone involved in any way. It’s such a good news story because if it wasn’t for this, these children wouldn’t receive a gift at all.”

Mrs Jack will be part of a team from Limavady heading out to Belarus in the New Year to deliver boxes to children there.