The annual Christmas Box campaign was launched today – 100 years since the first Christmas boxes were sent during the First World War
This Christmas charity uk4u Thanks! will send out up to 8,500 Christmas boxes to all those deployed on operations this Christmas.
From Sierra Leone to the Falkland Islands, every serviceman and woman deployed away from their loved ones will receive a gift on behalf of the British public.
Christmas 2014 also marks 100 years since the very first festive boxes were sent to all ‘wearing the King’s uniform’ at Christmas 1914. Princess Mary, daughter of King George V, set up The Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Fund, which distributed 355,000 boxes from 1914 to the summer of 1916.
uk4u has distributed over 200,000 boxes since being established in 2005.
The launch took place at the Imperial War Museum in London, which houses original boxes sent out in 1914 as part of its extensive collection from the First World War.
The contents of this year’s box are kept tightly under wraps, but they are expected to include a 1914-themed surprise or 2.
This morning’s event was attended by personnel from the Royal Navy, Army, and RAF, many of whom had received Christmas boxes while on recent operations
Speaking at the event, Defence Minister Anna Soubry said:
The MOD has always supported the Christmas Box campaign, ensuring that each and every member of the Armed Forces serving away from home over the festive period gets their very own box of Christmas cheer.
As we mark 100 years since the first Christmas Box of treats was sent to the front in 1914, it is a timely reminder that at this time of year, our troops’ morale is given a real boost by knowing someone is thinking them while they serve far away from home.
Lieutenant Commander Samantha Truelove, a serving member of the Royal Navy, said:
It is a great honour to be here today at the uk4u Christmas Box Campaign Launch, and to see such a fantastic high level of support.
Having served overseas during the festive season, the Christmas boxes I’ve received at sea and in whilst serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a great comfort and great for morale, knowing there are supporters back at home in the UK that are thinking of us while we are away from our families and loved ones.
I know I will certainly be thinking of fellow sailors and marines who are deployed over the holidays and will be supporting them through the uk4u Christmas Box Campaign.
uk4u trustee Sally Little said:
uk4u is thrilled to be able to continue a 1914 tradition started by Princess Mary of sending a gift from the nation to our Armed Forces on operations, away from their families, loved ones, and friends at Christmas.
On this special centenary, for the ninth consecutive year, uk4u will be sending a box with over 20 Christmas gifts to support out Servicemen and women. We are ever-grateful for the continued support of our sponsors and the British public, which makes this possible.
Members of the public who want to support the Armed Forces this Christmas are urged to donate to a service charity.