Donations are now being taken for a Christmas charity appeal which started in Wrexham more than 25 years ago.
Charity Teams4U, set up by Wrexham resident and the founder of the original Operation Christmas Child Dave Cooke, is now accepting donations for the annual Christmas Shoebox Appeal.
The appeal sees members of the public donating shoeboxes filled with small gifts, toys and toiletries to be donated to disadvantaged children and families living in poverty in countries like Belarus and Romania.
Five-year-old Darius who was helped last Christmas by Team4U's shoebox appeal
The charity’s donation centre, a warehouse in Rhosddu, is now open for donations for this year’s appeal and the charity is looking for donations and volunteers to help sort them out.
Teams4U has been running the shoebox appeal from Wrexham since 2012 and said they are very excited to see the enthusiasm Wrexham and Flintshire still have for the programme, with more than 40 schools and multiple groups and businesses involved across the area this year.
Dave Cooke said: “There are so many stories I could tell of how these gifts touch lives and having worked in the developing world for 26 years now I’ve seen first-hand the need and desperation that is out there.
"Last year we met Darius, he was five-years-old and lived in a one-roomed house made from mud and sticks in a family of nine. His mum had tried to save the very little she had to buy sweets for her children as their Christmas present but had her savings stolen by a family member, so the children woke up on Christmas day again with nothing.
"Our team knocked on Darius’ door that afternoon with precious shoeboxes donated from the UK and he told us “If in the morning I cry because I am sad, now I cry because I’m so very happy. Thank you for making Christmas real for me and my family”.
"The reality is we don’t often know the stories and lives of the children these boxes go to, but I know that they bring a lot of joy and happiness into some really hard and troubled places.
"You can say ‘it’s just a shoebox’ but it isn’t. It tells that child that someone, somewhere, has done this for them; that someone cares about them.”
This year the charity is hoping to donate more than 32,000 shoeboxes to deprived children and families in Eastern Europe.
The warehouse is by Total Fitness in Rhosddu and is open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, until Monday, December 5 as a drop-off point.
For more information about what to include in a shoebox, or to volunteer to help prepare the boxes for delivery, visit www.teams4u.com.
See full story in the Leader