CHILDREN throughout the Malvern Hills area have been unselfishly collecting over the past few weeks to make sure those less fortunate abroad get a present this Christmas.

Operation Christmas Child is a regular yearly collection which sees shoeboxes filled with donated gifts sent to mainly eastern european countries.

Dried foods are among the essentials that get packed in the special festive boxes.

Among those involved in this year's effort were children from Colwall Primary School who got together 145 shoe boxes filled with

presents to be sent to children in the former Soviet Union state of Azerbaijan.

Head Richard Southall said: "Without doubt this is the best number of boxes and enthusiasm from the children for this we have every had. We have 175 children in the school and 145 brought in boxes. They were more than happy to do it.

"The children looked hard at their Christmas day and thought about all the presents that they would have, realising that the box would probably be the only present some children would get and they would treasure it. It was a very worthwhile project to get involved in."

Pupils and parents from the Chase High School not only gathered 400 gift boxes for children in Azerbaijan but also raised over £600 in donations.

Lower school deputy head Hilary Smith said: "We have done this appeal for several years and each year we get a more magnificent response from both pupils and parents."

Christmas shoeboxes packed in other schools in the area are also on the way to other less fortunate children in countries such as Romania.