GENEROUS people across Renfrewshire have been praised for backing an annual Christmas appeal for vulnerable children.
More than 1,200 gift-filled shoeboxes are now heading for deprived youngsters in Belarus and Serbia as part of Operation Christmas Child.
The shoeboxes have been donated by schools, businesses, churches and organisations in communities such as Paisley, Johnstone, Renfrew, Elderslie and Erskine.
Teams of volunteers at the Operation Christmas Child processing centre in Houston have been working round the clock to collect, check and load the shoeboxes for transportation.
Chris Thomson, regional manager for Operation Christmas Child, told the Paisley Daily Express: “We’ve had shoeboxes from all over Renfrewshire – it has been amazing.
“It’s tremendous to see such kindness, particularly at a time when the economic downturn is hitting so hard.
“Everyone who has donated a shoebox can be absolutely certain that it will have a very positive impact on the child who receives it.
“These children often receive nothing else at Christmas and many are living in really difficult situations, ranging from street shelters or orphanages to children’s homes or hospital.
“Some do live with their families but, even then, we see children living in very harsh conditions, simply because the families are so poor.”
Chris added: “It might be difficult for someone to appreciate what a few toys, some toiletries and education items mean but the children are so appreciative.
“What’s also fascinating is that they often get their shoebox and share things with each other. We’ve had some great support from the public locally and from our volunteers, who work so hard.
“I wish everyone could see the smiles on the children’s faces when they get their shoebox – it makes you appreciate how the simple act of someone here sending a shoebox to an unknown child really is a very personal act of kindness.
“On behalf of Operation Christmas Child, I would like to say thank you to everyone in Renfrewshire who took part.
“It’s our 21st year of operation and we are so grateful for every shoebox ever donated. We know each one brings happiness to the child who receives it.”