Christmas boxes head to Liberia
One of the biggest Pentecostal churches in the country has pulled out all the stops to get Christmas presents to children in Liberia this year.
Jesus House Church, in Brent Cross, London, has collected a staggering 8,000 shoeboxes stuffed full of Christmas presents for children.
The shoeboxes were collected for Samaritan Purse's annual campaign, Operation Christmas Child.
The collection was overseen by Sola Irukwu, head of church social responsibility at Jesus House.
She said: "I read about Operation Christmas Child in our church magazine and thought it would be great for Jesus House Church to get involved.
"We originally thought we'd do 5,000 shoeboxes, but we were told that 8,000 boxes would fill a container. I thought it would be great if we could do that."
Wrapping and packing was done with the help of members of Jesus House, with the children and women's ministries both getting involved.
Church members drove all over London and even as far as Evesham to pick up shoeboxes.
Mrs Irukwu continued: "For most of us it was a life-changing experience."
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The response has overwhelmed Simon Barrington, UK executive director for Samaritan's Purse.
He said: "It's absolutely incredible that from one church in their first year of being involved in Operation Christmas Child they've really caught the vision for the programme of making a difference for children who otherwise wouldn't have got a present.
"But they've also caught the understanding that this is about showing God's love to children in need in countries across the world."
The shoeboxes collected by Jesus House will be heading for Liberia, where they will be distributed among children still feeling the impact of the long civil war that ended in 2004.
"Children became child soldiers and lost their mothers and fathers. Many today are malnourished," he explained.
"So the children there are in desperate need and wouldn't be used to opening presents at any time of year let alone at Christmas.
"These presents will go to children aged between four and 14 and when they open them around Christmas time you can just imagine the joy and the excitement."