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Best foot forward for Shoebox Appeal

November 21st, 2022 8:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Sally Daly and volunteers: Susan Hosford, Louanne O’Connor, Kay O’Brien and Ellen Crowley. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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THERE are 87 schools in the greater West Cork area working with Skibbereen woman Sally Daly, and her helpers, to provide 5,000 children worldwide with gifts this Christmas.

It was 25 years ago that Sally first learned of the Christmas Shoebox Appeal, which was known at the time as The Samaritan’s Purse.

It was as simple as coming across a leaflet, pretty much like the ones in circulation today.

‘We started off very small,’ said Sally, ‘but now we cover from Clonakilty to Castletownbere, Macroom, Dunmanway, Bantry and Skibbereen.’

In addition to the 87 schools, Sally said there are also individuals, ICA and Foróige groups, as well as creches, playschools and some active retirement groups, contributing to the appeal.

Everyone does what they can creatively, including the small army of knitters who year-on-year provide handmade toys, as well as unique hats, scarves, gloves and headbands.

A lot of schools arrange to have their boxes delivered to Sally’s depot in Skibbereen, but for those who can’t there are helpers – like Vincent O’Neill and John Hamilton – who secure the loan of a van and collect the boxes from all over West Cork.

A lot of work goes into the Hope Shoebox Appeal. Each September, Sally sends out the requests to the schools and by November 22nd the 5,000 boxes have all been collected, checked, and packaged ready for HQ in Dublin to collect them.

‘We never know where they are going,’ said Sally, ‘but it will be somewhere in Eastern Europe or Africa.’

About eight years ago, Sally was invited to make the journey to Odessa, a port city in southern Ukraine, to assist with the distribution so, this year, she’s hoping more Ukrainian children will benefit from the appeal.

When asked why she has committed so much of her time and energy to this project for the last 25 years, Sally said, ‘I couldn’t not do it.

‘I have a great love for children, and if it brings any little bit of joy it’s worthwhile.’

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