MORE than 15,000 shoeboxes full of festive gifts are being stored in two West Wiltshire warehouses to send to millions of children in need across the world.

They are being collected in Westbury as part of Operation Christmas Child, an annual appeal by the international charity, Samaritan’s Purse.

Wiltshire area co-ordinator Steve Lloyd said: “We’ve already collected more than 8,000 shoeboxes from Wiltshire and part of Somerset.

“We’ve got another 7,000 to 10,000 coming in before Monday from Cornwall and Shoe Zone stores in the south of England.

“By the time we finish, we’ll have over 15,000 boxes going out across the world to 13 countries.”

The first shipment will leave on Friday, November 30 bound for Liberia for distribution by Samaritan’s Purse ministry partners at community festive outreach events.

“We’re trying to get them all out before Christmas if we can,” said Mr Lloyd.

“We’ve got lots of volunteers checking and packing the boxes ready for shipment.”

The shoeboxes have been filled full of festive gifts such as toys, school equipment and clothing accessories such as hats, scarves and gloves.

Eight countries are sending the shoeboxes and many of the children receiving them will have never actually received a gift before.

Some gifts, such as toothpaste, liquids and sweets, are being

removed from the shoeboxes

because of customs regulations.

Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts globally to reach 11 million children worldwide.