Hove based Louis Seaman, 14, Joe Sales, 13, and Billy James, 13, have today been able to complete their Chief Scouts Gold Award by packing up Christmas shoeboxes at Tonbridge charity warehouse. The three scouts from the Third Hove (St Leonard’s) Scout group needed to complete their award before moving up to Explorers in January, but have struggled to find anywhere to a day’s worth of volunteering during lockdown as various charities have closed doors, or changed operations due to restrictions.

Scouts are asked to ‘spend a day volunteering with and finding out about a service in your local community’ to enable them to earn their ‘world challenge badge’ – one of six badges needed to complete their Gold award. The pandemic has meant lots of Scout activities have had to change, but the boys have been determined to finish their badge before moving on to Explorers.

Louis Seaman says, “We really wanted to complete our ‘world challenge’ badge to finish our Chief Scout’s Gold award before Christmas, but it was so hard to find anywhere to volunteer. Then my mum found out that they needed help packing Christmas Shoeboxes before Christmas. I have packed shoeboxes with my family since I was about three years old, so it was actually really interesting seeing where they go after you pack them at home. I’m so happy that I have now completed my Gold award before moving up to Explorers, and really grateful that we were able to come here and volunteer with this project.”

Christmas shoebox project, Operation Christmas Child rely on volunteers packing boxes that have been packed through their digital offering Shoebox Online, as well as ensuring all boxes packed physically comply with customs regulations before being sent to children around the world. Louis, Joe, and. Billy have safely packed and checked boxes meaning many can now start their journey to reach children in different contexts of poverty across the world. For many children who receive them, shoeboxes delivered through Operation Christmas Child, are the first gift they have ever received.

Tonbridge resident and Director of Operation Christmas Child, Nick Cole says, “Our volunteers are indispensable to the work of Operation Christmas Child, and this year we really have appreciated the many individuals like Louis, Joe and Billy, who have given up their time to help serve some of the most vulnerable children around the world (as in picture).

The boys have worked so hard in the warehouse today, and have been an absolute joy to pack boxes with. I’m so glad we could help them in achieving their Gold award – they deserve it! It’s so humbling to know that the. youngest in our society can make a tangible difference to a child somewhere who’s struggling.”

You are still able to pack a tailored and personalised box online, that Operation Christmas Child volunteers like Louis, Joe and Billy will pack up as per your selection. Find out more about packing a Christmas shoebox here: