Whybridge Junior School, on Ford Lane, is hosting 15 volunteers and more than 5,000 boxes of gifts for needy children as part of the Salvation Army's Operation Christmas Child. This is the second year running that the Rainham based school has teamed up with the charity.

In previous years, local preparations took place in a Woodford warehouse – but after its closure last year the charity was left homeless until Whybridge head Chris Hobson stepped in and offered up an empty classroom.

Head teacher Chris Hobson commented: "It's a community project and we're keen to be an active part of the community, the volunteers work ever so hard. As a community we've all got a responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves."

The Salvation Army's Purse Christmas shoe box appeal, titled Operation Christmas Child is organised in Whybridge Infant School. The appeal sends Christmas presents to deprived children and orphans in Kosovo, Serbia and Belarus, all of which have a connection with the Salvation Army.

The appeal is run by 15 volunteers. So far they have nearly 5000 shoe boxes to deliver. John Dell, a paramedic, will be going to Kosovo on December 8th to deliver presents to children. This is John's second year as a volunteer and he is the district coordinator of the Operation for Thurrock.

Rainham Village householder Denise Whybrow, of Ingrebourne Road, coordinates the project for Havering and the surrounding area.

Last week Ms Whybrow gave pupils an assembly about the project –

Jon Cruddas the local MP for Dagenham and Rainham attended: "It is a fantastic project that helps deprived children have a happier Christmas than they otherwise would have done. Projects like this highlight the true spirit of Christmas and help bring communities together. I applaud all the hard work of the volunteers involved, helping to make this Christmas extra special for the recipients of the shoe boxes."