A MILITARY camp and school students have packed thousands of Christmas boxes for children with parents in the army who will be overseas this year. 

Soldiers and students from Bovington Academy packed 2,500 special boxes to be sent to children across the country. 

The packages were organised by the military children’s charity called Little Troopers as part of its Christmas Smiles campaign, which recognises the difficulty faced by youngsters whose parents are overseas over the festive period. 

The volunteers, including soldiers from the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, spent eight hours packing the boxes on Wednesday, December 6, filling them with goodies including chocolate. 

The Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer, sent his good wishes to the volunteers in a video played at the start of the morning.  

Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, said: “A huge thank you to everyone who joined us in Bovington.  

“Christmas is a really hard time for children to be separated from a parent and our aim is to bring Christmas Smiles to thousands of military children this December and help them to feel special and supported.”  

Students from Bovington Academy came along to help pack the boxes, including siblings, Charlie, eight, Dottie, seven, and Pollie, six, whose dad serves in the Royal Navy and won’t be home this Christmas. 

Dottie said: “I miss getting hugs and kisses from my daddy when he’s away and it’s sad I can’t celebrate with him. When children open the boxes I hope they feel happy.”  

Sara White, principal of Bovington Academy, added: “When a parent is deployed it is naturally upsetting. We know first-hand the impact separation can have on children.  

“As a school we are able to offer expert support and pastoral care and our Listening Ear project means there is always a compassionate adult listener for children who are feeling anxious about a parent who’s away.  

“The Little Troopers’ Christmas Smiles boxes are a great way of making Christmas special in spite of the separation.”  

David Shaw, chief executive of the Veterans’ Foundation, said: “We are delighted to support this fabulous initiative which will bring smiles and happiness to military children this Christmas.”