THE Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal is 10 years old this year, and is hoping to shortly reach the 2m mark for shoeboxes sent abroad.
Every year school children and families around Ireland make up thousands of gift-filled shoeboxes bound for children in Eastern Europe and Africa.
Skibbereen organiser Sally Daly says she will never forget the children she has met while visiting some of the shoebox destinations.
‘One little boy in the Ukraine was so excited when he found a red pen in his shoebox, because nobody else had one,’ she says.
And another child was jumping up and down shouting ‘Mama!’ ‘Mama!’ on finding a brand new toothbrush in his box.
One teenager was so overwhelmed by receiving three pairs of new socks in his box that he walked around his orphanage with them and refused to let them out of his hands.
The children who receive the shoeboxes are affected by poverty in different ways. Many come from families with very little income, others live on the margins of society or in areas affected by conflict.
Shoeboxes are given based on need alone and bring joy and excitement to children living in often very difficult situations.
Last year Ireland sent 259,079 shoeboxes and 25,743 of these came from Cork with 4,374 from Skibbereen alone.
Sally advises shoebox fillers to find a standard-sized shoebox, wrap it in colourful, or Christmas, paper (lid separately), and use the four Ws for ideas to fill it – Wash (toothbrush, comb, wrapped soap, facecloth etc); Wear (socks, underwear, hat, scarf, flip-flops); Write (pens/pencils, crayons, notebook, etc); and Wow (a cuddly toy, skipping rope, small instrument, ball, toy car). Stuff in as much as you can.
Add €4 for delivery in the box or donate online and close the box with an elastic band. Try and get them to the delivery points on or around November 8th.
The TH website will teach you how to expertly fill your shoebox, what to put in, what not to put in, and finally where you can drop your shoebox once it’s ready.
You can read some stories of the children that have received a shoebox, watch their video, and see the amazing difference you can make, by going to Team Hope’s website at www.teamhope.ie.