TIME is running out for generous residents wishing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for needy children at Christmas.

The Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal is nearing its deadline. People have until October 31 to fill and drop off shoeboxes. Volunteers will then collect and deliver them to under-privileged children in Albania, Tanzania, Montenegro and Romania in time for Christmas.

The Rotarians have already raised £800, which is enough to fill nearly 100 shoeboxes. The money came in from a collection in Festival Place, in Basingstoke town centre, on September 24.

Brian Whindle, international committee chairman of The Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane, said: “Despite the recession, our one-day collection was our best-ever with the money that was raised.

“We are now looking for people to donate boxes filled with gifts that can be sent on.

“Sometimes people say we should be looking after the people in our own country before others, but the scale of poverty in these countries is something else. A lot of these children will never have had a present before.”

To put together a box, people should fill a shoebox with a range of appropriate gifts such as gloves, scarves, colouring pencils, games, a hairbrush or a toothbrush, and specify on the wrapped box whether it is for a boy or girl and what age.

Inappropriate items – like food, medicines, liquids, sharp or fragile items, and battery-powered toys – should not be included.

Items related to war, such as toy guns and soldiers, should also be excluded, as should any political, or religious materials.

The lid and box need to be wrapped up separately, so the contents can be checked, and people are asked, if possible, to attach £1 inside the top of each box to go towards travel costs.

You can drop off boxes between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, at Gazette Newspapers, in Pelton Road, Basingstoke, at Planned Lighting Maintenance Ltd, Royston House, Andover Road, Whitchurch, or at Alan Gibson Mazda, on the A30 at Old Basing.