Okay, I agree. It’s FAR too early to be talking about Christmas – even though some stores have been displaying Christmas cards since the end of August!

But, if you’d like to help to make Christmas a special time for families who might otherwise get very little in the way of festive cheer, now is the time to start.

Given the bad publicity received by Operation Christmas Child, we aren’t recommending that you support its appeal to make up shoeboxes containing gifts for children in the Third World. (If you haven’t heard anything about this, then Google for Operation Christmas Child critics)

However, many other organisations now put a lot of time and effort into Christmas shoebox appeals and a simple internet search should provide details of a collection point in your area.

And now is the time to start buying and gift-wrapping your donations. Each organisation has its own rules about what to include and what not to include and you also have to take into account that parcels going overseas need to meet customs regulations.

In the main, donations of soap, toothpaste, combs and other personal care products are recommended for families while children will love to receive a toy that is suitable for their age. Some charities also ask you to include a letter since some of the recipients are learning English. But remember that the gifts go to people of all cultures and religions so make sure you don’t include anything that would offend their beliefs.


Rotary clubs in many areas are now getting involved in shoebox appeals – and often, they run the scheme all year round rather than just for Christmas.


Most appeals include information on suitable box sizes and tips on the best items to include – so spend some time Christmas shopping and present-wrapping this weekend.

(If you have some time to spare, many charities also appeal for volunteers to help with their schemes at this time of year and are very grateful if you can spare a few hours to help out.)





  1. 1 Richard November 2, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    How can we know which evangelise and which don’t? We’ve just been asked in my company about helping one of these run by a church. As a Hindu I’m concerned about the evangelical focus of these things. I’m happy to help out local churches to help others and have done so, but am not happy to help them go in and upset other religions. If that is their primary aim then the charity seems wrong to me even though it may have positive other effects. I’d rather find a charity that has the positive effects without the evangelism.

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