There were lots of smiling faces at Avon school when the pupils received a surprise delivery from the North Pole on Tuesday.

Santa himself helped deliver shoeboxes stuffed full of treats for every pupil, thanks to hundreds of strangers. The shoeboxes are organised by Taranaki Shoebox Christmas, an initiative started by Lisa Southall three Christmasses ago.

Lisa was inspired by Pera Barret, a Porirua dad who organised a similar Wellington event for the past five years.

Lisa says she wasn't expecting as big a response as she had from people signing up to fill a shoebox or two.


"We have had lots of people sign up to do more than one shoebox, and we have been absolutely blown away by the support we have received."

As a result, this year the group have been able to deliver shoeboxes to a wide range of schools and kindys, as well as providing support to the Kai Kitchen.

On Tuesday, Lisa came to watch the shoeboxes delivered to the children at Avon school, saying it was "magical" to see the joy on the children's faces as they opened their presents.

Denise Hendren, Avon school principal, says the generosity of so many strangers really makes a difference to her pupils lives.

"They get so excited.

"So many of our children don't get presents at home so it is really amazing for them to get this for themselves."

Despite plenty of excitement, the children were all patient, happily waiting for every child in their school to have collected their shoebox from Santa before opening them all together.

The school hall turned into a flurry of excited shouts, flying wrapping paper and plenty of "thank yous" as the youngsters opened their gifts.


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