This is a reminder, a month earlier than usual, that the annual Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoebox appeal is starting to gather momentum here in Billericay. I’ve been greatly encouraged by the way schools, churches and community groups have supported OCC since my arrival in 2008 – over 4500 shoeboxes have passed through Emmanuel since then and 2197 were filled and sent from across Billericay last year.

Can I say thank you, on behalf of OCC and the children and young people, and their families, who receive your gifts, for your continued support. They really do make a difference.

OCC is the largest children’s charity in the world and shoeboxes have been delivered to 157 countries – and counting. Since 1990, over 125 million children and young people, worldwide, have been able to receive a Christmas gift that they would not have received because they live in extreme poverty, are orphaned or are the victims of war.

Sending a shoebox is a very practical way of showing God’s love to others and I know, from firsthand experience, the difference a simple gift makes to children, young people, families and whole communities. I have helped lead shoebox distribution teams to Belarus, Crimea and the Ukraine and I’d be happy to come and speak with your group, show some slides and tell some stories.

Might I please ask if you and your family, your place of work, school, club, group, organisation or business might be able to collect the following items for the 2017 shoebox appeal?

Something Fun: Small Football; Dominoes; Whistles; Toy Car; Harmonica.
Something To Love: Cuddly Toy; Teddies; Barbie Doll; Finger Puppet; Wind Up Toy.
Something Creative: Chalk; Crayons; Colouring Books; Play Doh; Small Sewing Kit.
Something To Keep Clean: Toothbrushes; Toothpaste; Soap; Flannels; Combs; Brushes.
Something To Put On: Hats; Scarves; Gloves; Head Bands; Small Bag.
Something To Learn With: Pens; Pencils; Sharpeners; Paper; Solar Calculator.
Something Homemade: Letter/Card or Photograph from the person/group who fill the shoebox.
Something To Put Your Items In: A shoebox wrapped in Christmas Paper.
Something For Postage: Each shoebox costs £5 to deliver.

Something NOT to include: Chocolate; Damaged items; War related toys; Anything of a Political or Racial nature; Sharp objects; Glass or Fragile items; Liquids; Playing Cards of the 4 suit variety.

It’s so simple to get involved with OCC and I know how much pleasure many people in Billericay get from collecting the above items, knitting scarves and hats and putting a shoebox together.  Your contribution, however small, is greatly appreciated. You can bring your collected items/shoeboxes  to Emmanuel Church (Laindon Road, CM12 9LD) on

Friday 17 November from 19.00 – 21.00 or Saturday 18 November from 9.30 – 13.00 and stay for our ‘Shoebox Filling Extravaganza’ – coffee and doughnuts provided! We also invite you to our ‘Shoebox Celebration Service’ on Sunday 19 November at 10.00 am.

Leaflets are available from me / Emmanuel and you can find more information and downloads on our website at emmanuel-church.info – or see links below.

This is a prayer we often use as we gather the shoeboxes together at our Sunday ‘Shoebox Celebration Service’:

Heavenly Father, We thank you for the fun we’ve had in getting these shoeboxes ready: they are a sign of the many good things you have given us. We offer them to you with our thanks and our love.  Be with the children and young people who receive these gifts.  Shower them with your love; fill their lives with hope; and may the joy of Jesus be made real to them this Christmas time. In your precious name we pray. Amen.

Thank you for your continued support.

This is a copy of my article for the October 2017 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

A poster can be downloaded here
A leaflet about how to pack a shoebox can be downloaded here
A leaflet about items you can put in shoeboxes can be downloaded here