GENEROUS shoppers in Festival Place helped to kick-start a Rotary Christmas Shoebox app-eal by donating more than £800 on the first day of fundraising.

Rotarians from The Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane and The Rotary Club of Basingstoke teamed up to encourage people to dig deep – and they did.

The £831 raised in the shopping centre will go towards filling shoeboxes with Christmas presents for children living in poverty and hardship in some of the poorest countries in the world.

John Upshall, from The Rotary Club of Basingstoke, said: “For a lot of these children, these gifts will be the only Christmas presents they get. It makes a really big difference for them.”

The shoeboxes will be shipped to countries including Montenegro, Albania, Moldova, the Philippines and Tanzania in plenty of time before Christmas day.

Jim Graydon, from The Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane, said: “Sponsor-ship of a shoebox costs £10 so the money we raised in Festival Place will be enough to fill 83 shoeboxes to be sent to children.”

To get involved with the shoebox appeal, you can either sponsor a shoebox or donate your own. The £10 to sponsor a shoebox covers the cost of the gifts and wrapping paper, and transportation costs.

Cheques can be sent to Rotary Shoebox Appeal 2012, c/o Jim Graydon, 34a Hill Road, Oakley, Basingstoke, RG23 7HS, made payable to ‘The Basingstoke Deane Trust Fund’.

Those wishing to fill a box themselves should cover a shoebox and lid separately with decorative paper, choose whether it will be for a boy or girl, and select one of the age categories of one to three, four to seven, eight to 11 and 12 to 15.

The box can be filled with items such as learning toys, games, balls, jigsaws, modelling clay, sticky tape, writing or drawing paper, crayons, playing cards, small clothing items, toiletries such as soap or a hairbrush and books.

Please avoid food, liquids, sweets, swimwear, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet rolls, military type toys, sharp items, batteries, large items of clothing and anything breakable.

The box needs a label with the age and gender it is intended for, should be secured with a strong elastic band and include a £1 coin attached to the lid to help with transportation costs.

The boxes need to be delivered by October 19 to either Alan Gibson Garage, A30, Old Basing, or Gazette Newspapers’ offices, in Pelton Road, Basingstoke.

For more information, visit therotaryclubofbasingstokedeane.