By Andy Hirst

An annual Huddersfield campaign which sends Christmas gifts to children living in desperate poverty in eastern Europe has smashed its target this year.

The Meltham Shoebox Project aimed to send 4,000 shoeboxes packed with goodies but has managed 4,062.

It’s been a real community effort with shoeboxes donated by students at Skelmanthorpe Academy, Cowcliffe Pre-School and Holmfirth High School. Volunteers included staff from the Yorkshire Building Society.

Meltham Shoebox Project media officer Rena Souten said: “The schools were all new to Meltham Shoeboxes and we look forward to working with them again in the years to come.”

The campaign – which has been running in Meltham since 2006 and is based at St James’ Church – has now finished for this year and the 30 volunteers celebrated with a fish and chip supper.

The shoeboxes are on their way to youngsters aged three to 14 in Ukraine, Romania, Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova. The boxes go to children who have lost parents or been abandoned, to those without homes, some who have been forced to leave their homes due to conflict and those who face discrimination in their own countries.

Volunteers busy packing the final few boxes at the Meltham Shoebox Campaign.

Rena added: “Our aim is to make a difference to the lives of children around the world who find themselves in desperate and hopeless situations.

“These gifts don’t fix the problems in their lives but shows that someone somewhere cares for them.”

Each box is different and the kind of things that go in them include toys, toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush, comb, hair accessories, soap and facecloth, notebook, pencils, rubbers, crayons, gloves, hat and scarf, new socks and underwear, a small game, puzzle, sweets and a small Christmas decoration.

The Meltham campaign comes under a larger charity called T4U (Teams For You) set up in Wrexham, North Wales, by founder Dave Cooke. Since 2013 it has sent around 250,000 boxes.

The shoeboxes are packed into large cardboard boxes which contain about 12 shoeboxes each. The large boxes are then loaded onto large lorries and taken to ports for transport across the North Sea.

The boxes then travel by road to their destination with T4U contacts in the countries making sure they get to the children who need them most.

The Meltham Shoebox Project has its own Facebook page at 

* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR ( specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.