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Students and staff at Bath College have been hard at work packing hundreds of Christmas shoeboxes for children in the Philippines.


Over 200 shoeboxes have been packed at the college for the Bath-based charity Mercy in Action, who will ship the boxes abroad on Friday.


They will be added to 700 boxes put together by community groups across the city to help make Christmas special for children living in poverty.


Charity founders John and Allison Todd set up Mercy in Action in 1995 to offer food and education to vulnerable children living on the street.


They were moved to start the charity after a trip to the Philippines where they met five boys who were begging on the street and hadn’t eaten in days.


The boxes will be handed out to children living in the province of Cebu and for many it will be the only present they receive at Christmas time.


Each box contains a small toy or gift, as well as tins of meat and fish, toothpaste, soap, pens, paper and crayons.


Travel and tourism students at Bath College were keen to help after packing boxes at Mercy in Action’s warehouse on Lower Bristol Road last year.


Student engagement officer Scarlett Mosnier said they had been inspired to volunteer after hearing John and Allison’s story.


She said: “They met these little boys, they fed them and the next time they came along with a couple of their friends who also hadn’t eaten for a couple of days.


“It’s nice to be part of something that you know is going to help people – I’m really impressed with the travel and tourism students.


“This is the second year we have worked with Mercy in Action. Last year we packed boxes at their warehouse and this year we decided to pack in-house.


“Doing it in-house means that a lot more students and staff can get involved.”


Beth Hockley, from Mercy in Action, will be travelling out to Cebu to hand out the boxes at Christmas time.


She said: “It’s nice that the students can show some empathy and think about people the other side of the world- we need any help we can get.


“It will be a lot of the children’s only Christmas present and they will share whatever is in the box with their entire family.


“A lot of them have only the clothes they are wearing and nothing else, so this will be life changing for them. They will be really excited about their bar of soap and shower gel – they are luxury items.


“We have links with other NGOs so any boxes we don’t use for our own project will go to partners out there who don’t have the support we have.”


Visit www.mercyinaction.org.uk.


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