Why was the uk4u Thanks! charity formed?

uk4u HistoryThe very first Christmas Box was the idea of Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary.  Princess Mary wanted to send a ‘gift from the Nation’ to all wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914.

In November 1914, an advertisement in the national press invited contributions for a ‘Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund’.  There was an overwhelming response, and the money raised was used to provide an embossed brass box, with a variety of contents.  For officers and men on active service afloat or at the front the box contained a pipe, lighter, 1oz of tobacco and 20 cigarettes.  Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets.  There were also boxes for Indian troops, who received sweets and spices, and nurses were sent chocolate.  Some of the items had to be sent separately from the box itself, for lack of space.

More than 355,000 gifts were successfully delivered in time for Christmas, but as time went on there was a shortage of brass and some did not receive their box until as late as summer 1916.  Even in January 1919, a ‘considerable number’ had still not been distributed.

The fund finally closed in 1920, by which time almost £200,000 had been donated to provide more than two and a half million boxes with contents.

The present day Christmas Box!

Inspired by Princess Mary’s Christmas Box, 19,000 boxes were distributed in 2005 and were designed to be the same size as the standard 24 hour Operational Ration Packs so that they could use spare irreducible capacity in the supply chain, and avoid any extra distribution costs to the tax payer. The items contained in each Christmas Box include some gifts for immediate use and some to take home for enduring use.

We rely on your generosity.
Help us to reach our to as many of our troops as possible.



We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years, here are a few.

  • BAE Systems
  • Westminster Foundation
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Sodexo
  • Airbus Group UK
  • Cooneen Watts & Stone
  • Vestey Foods