AS the nights draw in and Christmas edges nearer, hundreds across Portland have been thinking of those less fortunate as the Samaritan’s shoebox appeal gets underway.

On behalf of Portland Methodist Churches, Gill Greenwood has once again been collecting boxes from across the island for the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Appeal.

Each year, people are asked to fill shoeboxes with, gifts, toiletries, woolly hats, and other goodies to send to children living in poverty throughout the world as a result of natural disasters or political upheaval.

Gill said: "We haven’t counted them up yet, but I think we are going to have well over 300. We’ve been doing this a long time and every year it just seems to grow and grow.

"The bits inside may only cost ten pence or be from the pound shop but it means the world to these children who live in poverty or are experiencing civil war."

On Saturday, Portland Sports under 12 football team went to Easton Methodist church to hand in a bounty of smartly wrapped shoeboxes for the appeal.

Gill said: "We have now been recognised as the official collection point for the Samaritans. Each place is designated an area where the boxes get sent and ours usually go to Bosnia, Serbia, or other Eastern European countries."

Throughout the year, various individuals and community groups go out of their way to help these children receive a gift at Christmas, including Gill who gives up her spare time to orchestrate the appeal.

As well as the football club, boxes have been donated from St Johns Ambulance Badgers, Wyke Regis Church, Westfield School, the parish of Sydling St Nicholas.

Gill said: "There are so many people to thank, especially Dianne Jennins who always makes plenty of boxes, and the people at the Fiveways Centre who have been knitting lots of scarves, mittens and hats throughout the year."

"When I come into church I am just so touched by the generosity of all these people that I don’t know who have come to bring boxes. I am just so grateful."