MORE than 5,000 shoeboxes have arrived at the Evesham collection depot of Operation Christmas Child, within a week of it opening.

Bob James who is co-ordinating the appeal in Worcestershire and surrounding counties from its HQ at St Richard's Road said he was thrilled.

"We've got 280 cartons full or sorted boxes ready to go," he said.

Although he has experienced difficulty reaching some places, like Worcester because of the floods, he is continuing to cover an area of about 50 miles around Evesham to collect boxes.

Last Thursday residents of Seward Close, in Cowl Street, Evesham, got together to prepare another batch of boxes, proving its not just the young who support the appeal.

In fact, said Mr James, said the appeal appears to have tugged at the business community's heartstrings.

Evesham's Allens Fabrications Ltd supplied the warehouse for the appeal and a host of other Vale firms and businesspeople have weighed in with help in kind. GMS of Vale Park has provided a pallet truck while Troughton Transport has lent a load of pallets for the warehouse.

"We couldn't operate without the support of local businesses," said Mr James.

"We're really grateful to all of these folks who have helped us."

He hopes to collect more than 50,000 boxes in this area and beat last year's figure of about 47,000.

If you have a prepared a box you can drop it off either at one of the Journal's offices in Evesham, Stratford or Moreton (see addresses on page 2) or take it to the warehouse which is open until the end of the month, between 10am and 4pm and 6.30pm and 8.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am and 2pm on Saturdays.

Volunteers to help sort the boxes are always welcome. For further details call Mr James on 07980 187909.