SOLDIERS and students gathered in Bovington, Dorset recently to help pack 2,500 special Christmas boxes to send to children across the country who have a parent in the British Armed Forces deployed overseas this Christmas.
The boxes were organised by the military children’s charity, Little Troopers, as part of its Christmas Smiles campaign, which recognises that this is a particularly difficult time of year for children to have Mummy or Daddy serving away from home and aims to bring Christmas Smiles to these children over the holidays. This year, there will be thousands of children across the UK who have a parent serving overseas this Christmas and missing out on school nativities, carol services, family get-togethers and the magic of Christmas morning.
The Dorset volunteers, including soldiers from the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, students from Bovington Academy and people from the local community, spent eight hours packing the boxes which they filled with charity resources from Little Troopers, as well as Christmas treats and goodies including hot chocolate, reindeer food and Santa hats.
Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer MP, sent his good wishes to the volunteers in a video which was played at the start of the morning.
Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, commented:
“A huge thank you to everyone who joined us in Bovington. Christmas is a really hard time for children to be separated from a parent and our aim is to bring Christmas Smiles to thousands of military children this December and help them to feel special and supported.”
Students from Bovington Academy came along to help pack the boxes, including siblings, Charlie (8), Dottie (7) and Pollie (6) whose Dad serves in the Royal Navy and won’t be home this Christmas.
“I miss getting hugs and kisses from my Daddy when he’s away and it’s sad I can’t celebrate with him. When children open the boxes I hope they feel happy.”
Sara White, Principal of Bovington Academy, added:
“When a parent is deployed it is naturally upsetting. We know first-hand the impact separation can have on children. As a school we are able to offer expert support and pastoral care and our Listening Ear project means there is always a compassionate adult listener for children who are feeling anxious about a parent who’s away. The Little Troopers’ Christmas Smiles boxes are a great way of making Christmas special in spite of the separation.”
The Little Troopers Christmas Smiles boxes have been made possible thanks to funding from the Veterans’ Foundation, Pinnacle Family Services, RUK Advanced Systems and Day One People. Special thanks also to JDT Utilities for helping to transport the boxes.
David Shaw, CEO of the Veterans’ Foundation, explained:
“We are delighted to support this fabulous initiative which will bring smiles and happiness to military children this Christmas.”
Little Troopers has also organised lots of other activities as part of its Christmas Smiles campaign including free cinema screenings, an online party, and a Christmas baking event.
For more information visit: www.littletroopers.net.