Web links Belarus children with UK Christmas gift donors

Operation Christmas Child has for the first time linked up UK supporters over the web with the children in Belarus who received their shoeboxes.

Each year, over a million shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts make their way to needy children all over the world.

People in the UK who donated a shoebox had the opportunity to watch via a live link up as the children opened up their boxes at a social centre and a church in Belarus.

Samaritan's Purse Volunteer Communications & Development Manager Ruth Jones, who was part of the OCC distribution team in Belarus said: "This was the first time we have attempted to run webcasts from Belarus and we were not sure how they would be received.

"But they were a great success with hundreds of people tuning in to watch. Viewers watched as the children opened their shoeboxes with cries of joy. It was very moving."

Michelle Pannell, a blogger, was on the Operation Christmas Child distribution team and introduced the webcasts.

She wrote: "I have had such an amazing time here in Belarus. We have experienced so much in such a little time. It was a real whistle-stop tour of this great place.

"The culture is so different to anything I have experienced before and I have been really impacted by the place and the people I have been privileged to travel with.

"My eyes have been opened to new opportunities, ways to achieve things and avenues to explore."