National Charity opens new Volunteer Hub in West Midlands

11.30am, Tuesday 13th November 2018

Unit 1, Junction 2 Industrial Estate on Demuth Way, Oldbury

This week Samaritan’s Purse launches a new centre in the heart of the West Midlands to check and send off thousands of Christmas shoebox gifts to children in need around the world. The charity is inviting hundreds of supporters to come along to the new hub just off M5 Junction 2 in Oldbury to complete the vital next step in getting Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to the children overseas.

On Tuesday 13 November at 11.30am a brief celebration event takes place on site. Mark Ryan, leader of Birmingham City Church will lead a commissioning prayer and the premises will be opened by Darren Tosh, Executive Director of Samaritan’s Purse UK. Otilia Jelfs who received a shoebox as a child in Romania and now lives in Gloucester, will also describe the remarkable impact of that gift. Samaritan’s Purse’s invitation to attend the opening is open to all.

A chance for many more to process shoebox gifts

The charity has boldly committed to leasing the 12,000 square foot warehouse to give the opportunity for many more supporters to go beyond just packing a shoebox. From 13 November to 7 December 2018, they will check the shoebox gifts of around 40,000 donors across the region for safety and customs compliance. Those wishing to volunteer can register on line at: occprocessing.eventbee.com

Already groups from churches and businesses across the region have booked in. These include Birmingham Midshires, Lloyds, HSBC, NatWest, Lovell, and Enforce Technology for whom a day spent shoebox processing is an ideal Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

Chris Roberts, Operation Christmas Child Assistant Director, who lives in Kings Heath, and will lead the processing centre, explains further:

‘We have around 90 other small processing centres opening up around the country at the moment. But as the economy has improved it’s become more and more difficult to find vacant properties for our teams of volunteers to use. Many teams work faithfully in small premises with limited opportunity to welcome many volunteers. Last year our Black Country team cheerfully braved icy drafts and leaking roofs. It’s great to now provide them and many more supporters from across the West Midlands with spacious and warm facilities at the new site.

‘Our new centre is a breakthrough opportunity to welcome up to 100 volunteers at a time for the next four weeks. Whether someone likes practical or cerebral activities everyone will love a day in the processing centre.’

At the Oldbury site, the charity is piloting a new team approach to shoebox processing in the UK. Operation Christmas Child volunteers have enjoyed this process and proved its effectiveness in Germany, Australia and the US for a number of years. Full training will be provided and volunteers will be supported by experienced supervisors. The simple set-up means four people will work collaboratively on each shoebox, as part of ‘table teams’ that can fit up to 14 people. All this means volunteers will enjoy a sense of community and team spirit, and around an amazing 250 shoeboxes per hour can be checked per table.

The site is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10am to 4pm, also Fridays 6pm to 9pm.  Children are welcome and school and scout parties.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.  Individual adults and corporate teams are also welcome.  Please register on the EventBee website. For further information, please contact Chris Roberts, Assistant Director of OCC UK, on 07920 041590, or at chris.roberts@samaritans-purse.org.uk.

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