Tameside Aids ‘Operation Christmas Child’
Tuesday 1st December 2015 15:20 Denton & Audenshaw News Posted by Tom Greggan

he Samaritans’ Purse ‘Operation Christmas Child’ shoebox appeal is well underway and Tameside is doing its bit to help the cause.

Operation Christmas Child asks people to put together a shoebox of small gifts which are then despatched across the world to children who might otherwise receive nothing.

On Friday, the Civic Mayor of Tameside, Cllr Vincent Ricci, officially opened a collection centre at a warehouse on Whitelands Road in Ashton.

Here hundreds of volunteers are now sorting through thousands of donated shoeboxes that have been collected from across Greater Manchester.

The Mayor said: “I think it’s fabulous. All these wonderful volunteers are doing lots of good work. I take my hat off to all of them and the charity for organising such a wonderful event and I’m pleased, on behalf of Tameside Council, to play a little part in opening it.”

Warehouse Manager Martyn Catterall oversees the operation in the warehouse and he was delighted with the number of boxes that had been delivered for sorting already.

“In the first week we’ve already had 14,000 shoeboxes alone,” he said.

“We’re open for the next fortnight and in that time, we are hoping to receive 20 to 25,000 boxes.

“We have another warehouse in Bolton that should do about 6,000 and we’ve got a satellite in Glossop that will do about 4,000.”

He added: “All the boxes that come in need to be checked. They are all beautiful boxes, but there are certain things that we can and can’t include in them.

“For ten years we’ve been saying ‘no chocolate please’ but the amount of chocolate that comes in is phenomenal.

“But we just can’t send it because it can upset children’s stomachs in some parts of the world as they are just not used to it.

“So all the boxes are checked, all sealed, put into cartons and then put on to lorries or put into containers.”

The first load of sorted and approved boxes left on Monday for Kyrgyzstan with next week’s load bound for Liberia.

Martyn joined the Mayor in praising the volunteers who run the operation with military-like efficiency: “In the three weeks that we’re here, up to 1,000 people will sign in during that period to help which is just phenomenal.

“People are putting in full days here, seven hour days, five days a week so what can you say? Thank you at times doesn’t seem enough!”