Port Nelson's Andy Farmer, left, is with Leonore Genade, Monica Colling and Lynda Rea from Operation Christmas Child, who are getting ready to send nearly 1000 gift-packed shoe boxes to children in poverty. Photo: Kate Russell.

Nelson gets behind Christmas boxes

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Nelsonians are spreading the Christmas love in shoeboxes this year.

Nearly 1000 shoeboxes filled with gifts are ready to be sent overseas to children living in poverty.

It is part of Operation Christmas Child, a charitable scheme run by the Samaritan’s Purse organisation.

Boxes are filled with clothes, toys, school and personal hygiene supplies or ‘something special’, and are then sent to children in Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.

More than 100 of the boxes from Nelson have been put together by Port Nelson, which has been participating in the scheme for three years.

“It’s not hard to get people on board,” says Port Nelson’s Andy Farmer.”Most people do a few boxes and work pays the $10 donation.”

Andy says he mentioned the idea after his daughter’s pre-school once got involved.

“It just grew from there, and now I’m known as the Christmas box guy. The staff start harassing me in August, saying ‘are we doing the boxes this year?'”

“It’s too easy, really.”

Organiser Lynda Rea says they have been blown away with the generosity of Nelsonians, with other shoe boxes trickling in from other businesses, churches and schools around the region.

She will send the boxes to Christchurch in the first week of November and they will then go up to Auckland, ready to be sent to different countries.

“It feels awesome,” says Lynda.”Most of these children have never received a gift before and for some it really is life changing to know that someone loves them.”

“$20 to fill a box to us is nothing, and to them it’s everything. It’s such a simple way of making a difference.”