Soldiers and students gathered in Bovington, Dorset yesterday to pack special Christmas boxes for our charity. 2,500 boxes will be sent to children who have a parent in the British Armed Forces deployed over Christmas.
Louise, our charity founder said: “The boxes are part of our Christmas Smiles campaign, which recognises that this is a particularly difficult time of year for children to have Mummy or Daddy serving away from home. This year, there will be thousands of children across the UK who have a parent serving overseas this Christmas. They will miss out on school nativities, carol services, family get-togethers and the magic of Christmas morning. Our aim is to bring Christmas Smiles to these children over the holidays.”
The fantastic team of Dorset volunteers, included soldiers from Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, students from Bovington Academy and people from the local community. They spent eight hours packing the boxes which they filled with our charity resources and Christmas treats. When the children open their box they will find hot chocolate, reindeer food and Santa hats to help them prepare for the big day.
Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer MP, kicked off the day. He sent his good wishes to the volunteers in a video which was played at the start of the morning.
Bovington Academy students Charlie (8), Dottie (7) and Pollie’s (6) Dad serves in the Royal Navy. He will not be home this Christmas, so they were keen to be part of the team. Dottie says “I miss getting hugs and kisses from my Daddy when he’s away. It’s sad I can’t celebrate with him. When children open the boxes I hope they feel happy.”
Sara White, Principal of Bovington Academy, adds: “When a parent is deployed it is naturally upsetting. We know at first hand the impact separation can have on children. As a school we are able to offer expert support and pastoral care. Our Listening Ear project means there’s a compassionate adult listener for children who feel anxious about a parent who’s away. The Little Troopers’ Christmas Smiles boxes are a great way of making Christmas special in spite of the separation.”
The Little Troopers Christmas Smiles boxes have been made possible thanks to funding from:
Special thanks also to JDT Utilities for helping to transport the boxes.
David Shaw, CEO of the Veterans’ Foundation, explains: “We are delighted to support this fabulous initiative which will bring smiles and happiness to military children this Christmas.”
Louise added: “A huge thank you to everyone who joined us in Bovington to pack special Christmas boxes. Without their help this project would not have been possible. Thanks to them we had 2,500 boxes all packed up ready to go to all four corners of the country by 16.30! It was incredible!”
Who will receive our Christmas Boxes?
Louise said: “We have already sent 2,375 boxes to welfare units who have serving personnel deployed this Christmas. We also have 125 boxes that individual families can apply to receive. Please only apply if you are not part of a unit who centrally bid for boxes. An email was sent today to our mailing list with details of how to apply for individual boxes, so make sure you check your in-box!
More Christmas Smiles
Don’t forget we have also organised lots of other activities for our Christmas Smiles campaign. We have free cinema screenings, an online party, and a Christmas baking event. For more information sign up to our mailing list here.