Pupils at Bennett Memorial Diocesan School in Tunbridge Wells have donated almost 1,400 shoe boxes full of gifts for under privileged young people around the world. Katie Wassell and Molly Smith of Year 13 explain what the campaign means to them

WHAT'S IN THE BOX? Molly Smith and Katie Wassell of Bennett Memorial School

IN THE run-up to Christmas, Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse have been Santa’s little helpers for millions of deprived children around the globe.

With the generous help and support of the general public, this charity is able to send gift-filled shoeboxes to children all over the world.

For most of them this may be the only present they will ever receive. In fact, since the organisation began in 1992, 146 million shoeboxes have been sent.

At Bennett Memorial School, we have participated in the campaign for more than ten years, giving 1,345 shoeboxes this year alone.

Each year, tutor groups work together to fill and wrap as many shoe boxes as possible, with a little competitive spirit kicking in as the form with the most shoeboxes wins a prize. This year the tutor group 7 Langdon won the competition, producing 69 shoeboxes.

One of our key values as a Church of England school is ‘compassionate service’. We aim to serve others with humility and love, reflecting the hospitality that Jesus offered to all people.

This is something we demonstrated in the huge output of shoeboxes this year as we have attempted to share this kindness with deserving children across the globe.

Two other important values that make up the Bennett ethos are ‘always hope’ and ‘flourishing’. This means enabling all children to achieve their full potential.

Our shoeboxes provide children with important supplies such as pens and paper needed for schooling, hygiene items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste and essentials such as hats and scarves that will keep them warm in winter.

This attitude is reflected by many of the students at Bennett. We asked some Year 7 students why the Shoebox Appeal was important to them.

Eva Cushing said: “It’s about giving children that don’t have enough money joy at Christmas.” And Alicia Court added: “To make a child at Christmas happy.”

Bennett is proud to have produced more than a quarter of all the shoeboxes in Tunbridge Wells as the appeal is an important part of Christmas at our school.

It allows us to be providers, rather than just consumers, at Christmas. We intend to contribute with equal enthusiasm next year – and we hope you do too.

If you feel inspired to join in with this incredible campaign, please visit the Samaritan’s Purse website and click on ‘Get Involved’.