A sprinkling of Christmas cheer is being spread far and wide by generous Sunderland College students over the festive period.
The teenagers have been working hard to make sure children less fortunate than themselves have a present to open on Christmas day.
More than 100 A-Level students have taken part in Operation Christmas Child, a campaign led by Samaritan’s Purse which delivers gift-filled shoeboxes to children in deprived countries.
And this year saw the college donate 147 shoeboxes – the highest ever total – to the charity which is delivering the festive treats to countries all over the world.
Sixteen-year-old Katherine Eastaugh, who is studying A-Levels in English literature, geography and music, said: “Operation Christmas Child is an excellent cause as it is giving presents to poor children who wouldn’t normally get anything at this time of the year.
“Taking part in the fundraising activities and buying gifts for the shoeboxes was very enjoyable, and it felt like we were making a real difference to the children who will receive them. I would love to get involved again next year, when hopefully we can raise more money and send off even more shoeboxes.”
Since September, the students have been organising and holding a series of fundraising events, including a sponsored stay awake activity and lots of cake sales, to boost awareness of the campaign.
The college-wide initiative, which involved students and staff across all four campuses, raised more than £500 for the shoebox appeal.
Students used the cash to buy a selection of useful and fun presents including toys, books, sweets, stationery and toiletries to pack in the shoeboxes.
The college has been involved in Operation Christmas Child for the past seven years, and the scheme is led by tutorial lecturer Chris Goodall.
He said: “Each year our students wholeheartedly get involved in the shoebox appeal, and this year is no different. This is a record-breaking year for the college’s Operation Christmas Child campaign and I am extremely proud of all of the students for taking part in such a fantastic and worthy initiative.
“All of the planning and activities were carried out by the students in their free time and they went above and beyond to make sure this year’s campaign was a roaring success. Almost 150 children in countries such as Swaziland will not go empty-handed on Christmas Day thanks to the efforts of our students.”
Operation Christmas Child has been running since 1993 and has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in over 150 countries. The campaign expects to deliver to more than 11 million children this year alone.