A young bakery worker has inspired her workmates to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to children in crisis-hit parts of the world.
Florence Roberts, 24, asked her colleagues at the Village Bakery to help her provide shoeboxes crammed with goodies for the Operation Christmas Child charity in Wrexham.
People are urged to fill boxes with items such as toys, toiletries and sweets for distribution to trouble-torn areas around the globe.
The charity was founded by Dave Cooke in Wrexham in 1990 and since then it has sent more than 100 million gift-packed shoeboxes to needy children across the globe.
Last year Florence, who works in the Village Bakery’s new product department, contributed her own shoebox and this year she decided to get her colleagues in on the act.
As a result, a total of 63 shoeboxes from the family firm’s bakeries in Wrexham and Minera, were delivered to the Operation Christmas Child warehouse on the Whitegate Industrial Estate.
Florence, who lives in St Martin’s near Oswestry, said: “I did it last year at home so I thought it was a good idea to get my colleagues at the Village Bakery involved so we can get loads of boxes.
“Everybody has responded really well and are really keen, especially those with children.
“They want to teach their children about giving to other people, less privileged. It’s a great lesson, really good.
“We’ve collected 63 boxes in total and they are full of different things like toys, sweets and hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps and flannels.
“Some people will choose to donate online which means they get a barcode on their box so then they can find out where it goes to. It’s a really good idea. It’s brilliant.”
It was a sentiment echoed by supply chain manager Katherine Ashcroft who helped deliver the shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child.
She said: “Everybody gets the meaning of Christmas and how important it is to help kids who aren’t as fortunate as our kids.
“It makes our children appreciate what they’re getting and it’s not the big things in life it’s the little things that count.”
Retired former BT engineer Phil Walker, the district coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, was extremely grateful to the staff at the Village Bakery for their generosity.
He said: “Last year we had just over 10,000 shoe boxes here from our catchment area of North Wales and Chester and we’re hoping for a similar number this year.
“This year we think our shoeboxes are going to Albania – last year they went to Zambia and Belarus.
“It started off when Dave Cooke was watching a BBC documentary about conditions in the Romanian orphanages and he decided that he wanted to do something to improve their lives.
“The first year there were about five lorry loads of just general aid that went out and the shoe boxes came in to individualise the presents at a later stage.
“The shoeboxes make a tremendous amount of difference to the lives of these children who in many cases have been traumatised through war or AIDS or just sheer poverty.
“The Village Bakery have just dropped off 63 boxes which is excellent. We weren’t expecting that. We didn’t know anything about that, a bit of a bonus there.
How valuable is it when you have companies like the Village Bakery – we need it because we have a big job on our hands.”
Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “The generosity of spirit of our staff here never ceases to amaze me and Florence has done a magnificent job in rallying the troops.
“The shoe box appeal is a wonderful way for people to reach out and help those less fortunate for themselves while doing their Christmas shopping.”