DESPITE it being a month until the festive season, thousands of residents from Romsey and the Test Valley are filling shoeboxes with gifts for Operation Christmas Child.

It’s the world’s largest Christmas project run by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organisation providing church support and emergency relief to suffering people around the world.

Operation Christmas Child aims to collect enough shoeboxes globally to reach 11 million children in more than 100 countries.

Shoebox gifts from Hampshire and across the Test Valley will play an important role in reaching the target.

In 2017, 6,656 boxes were collected in the region.

David Gibbons, who manages the project for the south and south west region, said: “For many across this area, Christmas is about more than just the expensive festivities we see so often today.

“We have thousands of supporters across the region who want children to know the meaning of Christmas and for them to know they are loved and not forgotten.”

“Many of the children receiving the gift-filled shoeboxes will have never received a gift before.”

Gift suggestions include toys, school supplies and hygiene items.

Residents can start packaging their shoebox with decorative pre printed boxes and free resources available online.

All shoeboxes must be taken to your nearest drop off location between November 1 and 18.

Those in the Romsey area are at the Oasis Christian Centre, in Church Street, Romsey, and the Alderwood Choice Plants, in Stockbridge Road, Timsbury.

Mr Gibbons said: “This is a great project to get involved in – not just in packing a shoebox gift, but also in the huge volunteering effort in processing the boxes.

To get involved visit