An amazing outpouring of support for shoebox appeal

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Christmas is known as the time for giving and goodwill.

And kind-hearted Calderdale folk are certainly doing their bit to spread some joy this festive season, showing huge support for the Rotary Club Christmas Shoebox Appeal, in partnership with the Halifax Courier.

Rotarians have been left overwhelmed by how well this year’s appeal has gone - demand for boxes is so high that people are now being asked to fill what they can if they would like to contribute.

A staggering 2,700 boxes are now in circulation, with orders flying in from charities and good causes. It’s hoped the target of 1,800 boxes given out last year will be smashed and the Rotary Clubs are appealing for people to get their boxes in as soon as possible.

Bryan Harkness, who co-ordinates the appeal, said the response was “fantastic”.

“The demand for boxes is so high that we have run out,” he said. “It’s the first time that has happened.

“It’s all about bringing a smile to people’s faces. Calderdale is just one big family and it’s very heartwarming to see the outpouring of support.

“The children have really loved it, it brings them into the community and it’s a way for them to bring a smile to the faces of others.”

The appeal began back in 2011, when the Rotary Club of Halifax joined with the six other clubs in Calderdale, from Brighouse to Todmorden, to combine efforts and support Rotary’s International Shoebox Appeal.

The first year was a big success and 1,700 boxes full of children’s toys and gifts were shipped to Moldova.

The following year, help moved closer to home and the Calderdale Christmas Rotary Shoebox Appeal was born.

The clubs worked closely with Voluntary Action Calderdale and groups which helped those in need in Calderdale throughout the year were identified.

By Christmas Eve 2012, Calderdale had filled more than 2,000 boxes - all of which were delivered to those people who might not expect to receive Christmas gifts.

The appeal is now an annual fixture in Calderdale’s calendar and from 2012, more than 7,000 boxes have been filled to bring some festive cheer.

All the flat pack boxes are produced locally and then passed to supermarkets, schools and businesses. Major employers in the town including Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Sun Alliance, Covea Insurance, plus smaller businesses have all lent their support.

Bryan said: “This year, schools’ and educational establishments’ requests for boxes has been phenomenal.

“Some 26 are actively filling boxes, equating to some 1,700 children and their families.

“Many of the boxes which are now being returned have been wonderfully and carefully decorated by the children, with some schools having decorating competitions.”

Around 400 boxes have been returned so far, but with orders pouring in people are being encouraged to get theirs in.

The Rotary Clubs are expecting the next two weeks to get busy as a Santa’s Grotto in the town will become a hive of activity as orders are checked and sorted.

If any voluntary organization or charity wants to come on board, contact Rotarian Bryan Harkness on 07770 471698.

People wanting to fill a box should return it no later than December 2.

Boxes can be returned to: Tesco in Brighouse, King Cross and Sowerby Bridge, Morrisons in Elland;, Sainsbury’s in Halifax and Harveys of Halifax.

John Kenealy, editor of the Halifax Courier, said: “Readers never cease to amaze me with how generous and thoughtful they are. This is going to be a huge boost for a lot of people.”

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