Andy Farmer and Wendy Milson with just some of the shoeboxes that have been filled with presents and will be delivered to children in the Pacific for Christmas. Photo: Andrew Board.

Port gets behind shoebox gifts

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A thousand shoeboxes filled with Christmas treats by Nelsonians will be shipped to needy Pacific Island communities over the next month, and one of the region’s largest businesses is right behind it.

The project is run by international charity Samaritan’s Purse and sees people all over the world fill an empty shoebox with items ranging from clothes to toys, school equipment, a hairbrush and “something special” before they are delivered to children in need for Christmas.

This is the second year running that Port Nelson has taken part in the effort by encouraging its staff to fill a shoebox.

Port Nelson’s Andy Farmer says he first heard of the charity through his child’s preschool in Richmond. He took it to management at Port Nelson who agreed to pay the $9 shipping charge for each box filled by a Port Nelson staff member.

Last year 55 boxes came back, this year it’s 90.

“I’m rapt, I think a lot more people were aware of what it was this year so we had a really good number of people take it up. I think people like that it’s easy to do, tangible and that it goes to kids,” he says.

The programme is run in Nelson through the Richmond Baptist Church. Its children’s pastor Wendy Milson says Port Nelson is by far the largest single supplier of full boxes.

She expects between 900 and 1000 boxes to come from the Nelson and Tasman area.

“The big push is to give these children something to hang on to and to treasure. You see the videos and the smiles on their faces and they’re so delighted to get something that’s actually theirs. Because some of them have nothing, they are allocated so it isn’t a free-for-all.”

She says the filled shoeboxes from Nelson have been handed out in Fiji over the past two years.

Andy says the charity is a good chance to get kids involved.

“It seems like a nice thing to do, people get into it and it’s an easy thing to do. Whatever you put in that box you know is going to end up in a kid’s lap as a Christmas gift.

There’s still time to fill in a shoebox of your own, simply pick up an empty shoebox from Manna Christian Stores in Montgomery Square or from Richmond Baptist Church on Salisbury Rd.

Fill the box with items recommended in the flyer that comes with the box and return it with $9, which pays for the shipping, to Richmond Baptist Church before Labour Weekend.