It may only be the start of September but kind-hearted Huddersfield folk are already preparing to make Christmas special for children living in poverty in eastern Europe.

Dedicated volunteers based at St James’ Church in Meltham Mills pack shoeboxes full of goodies and send them off every year.

It’s a major operation – last year they sent 4,000 shoeboxes – so have made an early appeal for help either donating items for the shoeboxes or volunteering. The shoeboxes will be heading to the Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Romania.

Empty shoeboxes can now be given to Huddersfield organisations such as nurseries, schools and community groups to fill or people can donate items directly to the Meltham volunteers.

The project is led by Judith Powell, who said: “While many people have contributed to this appeal for many years I hope they are keen to get involved again. People can help simply by filling a shoebox for a child. We have plenty of shoeboxes already covered in Christmas wrapping paper to fill.

“Just contact me for a supply of boxes and leaflets which include the label to put on the shoebox lid. People can also contribute items for the packing team at St James’ to put in shoeboxes.”

Contact Judith on 07954 784317.

The items needed in the shoeboxes include toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush or comb, facecloth and soap, stationery such as pens, pencils and paper; gloves, hats, scarves, a craft pack, sewing kit and small gifts such as a soft toy, doll, ball, game or puzzle, bubbles or even a musical instrument such as a harmonica or recorder.

Simply put the items in the box and add a piece of paper in the top saying if the gifts are for a boy or a girl and the age range which can be 3-5, 5-9 or 9-14. People can pop a photo of themselves in too with their names so the children can see who has sent it.

Wrap the bottom of the box and the top separately in Christmas paper if it’s not already wrapped and then pop an elastic band around it but don’t stick it down as every box needs to be opened and checked at the church. It’s then sealed before its journey to eastern Europe.

Meltham Shoeboxes treasurer Martin Warriner with donated items

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 and last year T4U sent over 62,500 shoeboxes to various countries in Eastern Europe, including the 4,000 from Meltham.

St James’ church will be open for the project from November 13 to 30.

People who don’t feel they can fill a shoebox but would still like to help could pay £15 for someone else to fill a shoebox or pay £3 to help with the ever-increasing transport costs.

More details can be found on the website:

There will be a fundraising concert on Thursday, December 7, at St James Church, Meltham Mills, with Honley Ladies Choir and flautist Simeon Wood. Tickets cost £10 and will be available in September from shoebox team members or Dimps by Ville hairdressers on Station Street in Meltham.

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.