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Formby Methodist Church Christmas Shoebox Express this October

At Shoebox Express, preparations for Christmas have been in full swing since 26th December last year. It began with Christmas wrapping paper – about 1500 metres of it – in the Boxing Day sales and through the year toiletries, toys & games, sweets, hats, gloves, school stationery and empty shoeboxes have been added to the collection.

You may already be familiar with Christmas shoebox schemes. Participants Christmas-wrap a shoebox and fill it (with stationery, toiletries, toys, games, clothing and sweets) for a needy child in Eastern Europe, Central Asia or Africa at Christmas. This usually involves studying the scheme small-print and tearing around the shops in the lead-up to Christmas to assemble the necessary (and permitted) merchandise at full pre-Christmas prices.

“Shoebox Express” is the name for our community-based assistance project. Our goal is to make it fun, easy and inexpensive for people to participate in the Christmas shoebox schemes. We shop throughout the year, retail and wholesale, to purchase items when they are at their cheapest, rather than in the weeks leading up to Christmas when they are often most expensive.

We buy only items that are permitted by the schemes. Volunteers knit hats and glove puppets. We collect and cover suitable shoe boxes with Christmas gift wrap and then bring everything together in one place to deliver you a one-stop-shop.

The diagram ‘How Shoebox Express Works’ outlines the system we operate. At the Shoebox Express event you can choose from a wide range of ready-covered shoeboxes (these are all free of charge), fill them with a full selection of suitable gifts from across all categories: stationery, toiletries, clothing, sweets, toys & games. Our prices start at 5p and no one item costs more than £1. We charge only what we have paid, rounded to the nearest 5p to make the adding up easier! Participants can leave their completed boxes with us on the day, or take them away for collection at another venue. Many schools and churches in the area have such collections and work with different schemes.

If you’re short on time, we also offer ready-filled shoeboxes at £4.50 each. These contain a full selection of items from all the recommended categories, wrapped in Christmas paper and appropriately labelled.

This year, Shoebox Express has two events in Formby:

  • Saturday 14th October (between 10am and 4pm) at Formby Methodist Church, Elbow Lane. Admission is free, there will be a Games and Activities room for children and the refreshments, including bacon baps, are free all day!

  • Wednesday 18th October (between 10am and 4pm) at St. Peter’s Church Hall, Paradise Lane. Admission free.

We hope you will join us for what can be a heart-warming experience! If you have children, or grandchildren, please bring them with you. After all, what could be better than seeing our children get involved in the giving as well as the receiving this Christmas?

If you have any questions please contact via e-mail:

Shoebox Express Formby Methodist Church Elbow Lane


or you can write to them c/o The Family Centre, Formby Methodist Church, Elbow Lane, Formby, L37 4AF.

Samaritan’s Purse story from a scheme volunteer in Romania:

“On Friday, the team was split into two groups and visited different paediatric hospitals around Cluj. We were part of a team which visited an intensive care unit. A fellow team member had one shoe box left for a boy aged 10-14. She was asked to go into a side room where a boy of 14 was lying in a bed. The previous day he had been in a car accident in which both his parents died. The boy was still in deep shock following major surgery. His grandmother was by his side and was overcome by emotion. I joined my fellow team member in the room as she held the boys hand and stroked his head. She spoke to him as he looked up at her. She handed him a shoe box and held up the items one by one to show him what was inside. The love that came out of that box was overwhelming. And, the boy spoke in English to say thank you. His arm was heavily strapped following surgery. He was on a drip and under constant observation. Without speaking I hugged the boy's grandmother and tears fell down her face. Words were not needed as she expressed her grief. On leaving the room she spoke in Romanian, which was translated as, ‘You are an angel from heaven'. Despite the terrible grief that she was experiencing, the grandmother found these few words to say thanks you for the shoe box wrapped in Christmas paper and filled with gifts. It is difficult to put into words how we felt in that room. But, there is no question that the shoe box brought happiness at the most difficult time in their lives.”

Samaritan’s Purse story from a scheme volunteer in Uganda tells the story of one Christmas shoebox:

“When ten-year-old Betty received a gift box, we could see tears flow from her eyes, which were a sign of how this gift was special to her. When asked why she was crying, she said she could not believe all the items in the box belonged to her. She shared a story of how she missed school for a week because she did not have a pencil to use. Now, she will be able to return to school because she received pencils in her box.”

Four Shoebox Schemes

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