Volunteers in St Neots are in the process of sorting and checking hundreds of shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts for needy children.

More than 1300 boxes, with toys, toiletries and other items, have been collected from churches and schools in the St Neots area and will be shipped to northern Iraq in the next two weeks.

The collection is part of Operation Child, organised by the Samaritan’s Purse charity, and has been co-ordinated by volunteers from The Eynesbury Methodist Church in Berkely Street.

Volunteer Laurie Horden, said: “We want to thank all the volunteers and the people who donated boxes and also Tesco who lent us some metal cages to help us organise the boxes for checking.

“These boxes will go to people in desperate need, some of whom have lost their lives and are fleeing for their lives.”