Lit­tle sur­prises for chil­dren

Stratford Press - - News - By ILONA HANNE

There were lots of smil­ing faces at Avon school when the pupils re­ceived a sur­prise de­liv­ery from the North Pole on Tues­day.

Santa him­self helped de­liver shoe­boxes stuffed full of treats for ev­ery pupil, thanks to hun­dreds of strangers. The shoe­boxes are or­gan­ised by Taranaki Shoe­box Christ­mas, an ini­tia­tive started by Lisa Southall three Christ­masses ago.

Lisa was in­spired by Pera Bar­ret, a Porirua dad who or­gan­ised a sim­i­lar Welling­ton event for the past five years.

Lisa says she wasn’t ex­pect­ing as big a re­sponse as she had from peo­ple sign­ing up to fill a shoe­box or two.

“We have had lots of peo­ple sign up to do more than one shoe­box, and we have been ab­so­lutely blown away by the sup­port we have re­ceived.”

As a re­sult, this year the group have been able to de­liver shoe­boxes to a wide range of schools and kindys, as well as pro­vid­ing sup­port to the Kai Kitchen.

On Tues­day, Lisa came to watch the shoe­boxes de­liv­ered to the chil­dren at Avon school, say­ing it was “mag­i­cal” to see the joy on the chil­dren’s faces as they opened their presents.

Denise Hen­dren, Avon school prin­ci­pal, says the gen­eros­ity of so many strangers re­ally makes a dif­fer­ence to her pupils lives.

“They get so ex­cited.

“So many of our chil­dren don’t get presents at home so it is re­ally amaz­ing for them to get this for them­selves.”

De­spite plenty of ex­cite­ment, the chil­dren were all pa­tient, hap­pily wait­ing for ev­ery child in their school to have col­lected their shoe­box from Santa be­fore open­ing them all to­gether.

The school hall turned into a flurry of ex­cited shouts, fly­ing wrap­ping pa­per and plenty of “thank yous” as the young­sters opened their gifts.

■ Visit www.face­­boxChrist­mas/ and like the page to stay up to date with the plans for next Christ­mas. See our photo page for more pho­tos of the young­sters and their gifts.

Ev­ery child at the school re­ceived a shoe­box.

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