Mother and daughter on mercy mission to Serbia

The Massive Shoebox Appeal at Mowbray Community Church
The Massive Shoebox Appeal at Mowbray Community Church

A Harrogate mum and daughter are Serbia-bound on a mission to deliver Christmas boxes to disadvantaged children.

Debbie Knight, 53, first donated a box through the Operation Christmas Child charity when daughter Bethany, 17, was born.

The charity is sending the pair to Eastern Europe as it celebrates 22 years since sending its first of 96 million boxes to date.

Debbie said: “I filled my first box when Bethany was born. She and I have been selected to go on the same distribution trip, so it is has come full circle.

“We are going to Serbia for five days, I am excited but I know it will be emotional. These children are very poor, and we will see that when we visit orphanages, nurseries, schools and family homes.

“I don’t know what to expect, but it won’t be a holiday. We will be in a group of eight people from across the UK, and working 12-15-hour-long days.”

Debbie’s two daughters attend Harrogate Ladies College, and the family helped Mowbray Community Church donate 300 boxes to the appeal.

Packers in Harrogate normally fill 4,000 boxes. However, that number will double this year as there is one less warehouse operating in Leeds.

Debbie explained: “We are taking on the packing of 4,000 more boxes as a warehouse in Leeds failed to materialise.

“That means we will be packing around 8,000 boxes, and the reason I do it is because I know the charity makes sure every single one goes to a child.”

People can drop off boxes or help pack at the charity’s warehouse, unit 39 in Claro Road Business Park.

It is open from 10am to 6pm on Tuesday, 2pm to 8pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

The charity suggests filling boxes with toys, stationary, scarves, hats and hygiene items such as a toothbrush.

Boxes can also be dropped off at the Leeds Building Society in the town centre.