The Mayor of Test Valley has helped out with the Rotary Club’s annual shoebox appeal to provide festive gifts to disadvantaged children.

Councillor Martin Hatley assisted with the preparation of the boxes in the Portway Industrial Estate with Andover’s branch of the organisation.

Andover Rotary had collected hundreds of boxes together from individuals and schools across Test Valley, before they were shipped almost 2000 miles to give to children in a number of eastern European countries.

Test Valley’s boxes will be sent alongside many others to Albania, Moldova, Montenegro and Romania, with over one million boxes sent abroad over the scheme’s 25-year history.Andover Rotary thanked everyone who was involved with the donation and delivery of the boxes.

In a statement, the group said: “The gift of a shoebox that contains toys, toiletries, educational items or household goods is a drop of happiness to the people of Eastern Europe who live in a world of poverty.

“For many, it will be the first present that they have ever received and it lets them know that somebody, somewhere cares.”

They also thanked Andover business Stratford Commerical, who provided the space for all the gifts to be stored.

Philip Hadfield, a Director of the company, said that they and their client, Greensea Properties Ltd, were delighted to be able to provide the unit for the appeal.

Their appeal complements others that have taken place in Andover, with Andover Foodbank delivering almost 1000 boxes this Christmas. A variety of organisations, including sports teams, got involved.

As part of the Rotary Club Shoebox Appeal, boxes can be prepared for a variety of different age groups.

For instance, baby boxes include a variety of baby clothes and cleaning products for new mothers, while toy boxes for children can include toy cars, plasticine and crayons.

The group also caters for teenagers, who can receive sports equipment and costume jewellery, while boxes for families include health and beauty products and domestic items.

Each box costs £2 to the person or organisation filling it, which pays for the collection and distribution of the box through the Rotary organisation.

Rotary International were founded in 1905 as a secular and non-political humanitarian service organisation, with millions of members across the world.