This year more than 4,000 shoeboxes will go out as part of the annual Operation Christmas Child appeal held in Barnstaple

Volunteers at Grosvenor Church in Barnstaple have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the response to this year’s Operation Christmas Child shoebox appeal.

A total of 4,297 shoeboxes containing essential items, toys and luxuries will be going out to children in countries such as Belarus and Albania.

North Devon co-ordinator Tracey Owen said huge numbers of volunteers had given up their time this year and 24 local schools had taken part.

“It’s been such a community response, it has been overwhelming,” she said.

“We just want to say thank you and to be able to send these boxes to the children out there. A lot of them will be either in orphanages, in poverty or diseased conditions or in areas of conflict.”

Tracey said she had been into several local schools to talk about the appeal.

Tracey said one little boy at a school told her he did not want presents at his birthday party, but instead wanted his friends to bring items for shoeboxes.