I feel a little as if I’m on “Appeals” overload at the moment, but as both these causes are extremely worthwhile in my opinion, and with deadlines fast looming, I just had to squeeze them both into the same week. The first was the Teal Pumpkin Project that I mentioned in my last blog post and it’s not too late to sign your household up and help provide some peace of mind for parents of allergy children. You can pledge your support through this link and make a big difference with just a few simple steps. If Halloween isn’t your thing, once it is done and dusted this weekend and the pumpkin spice lattes disappear from the coffee shops, your attention will no doubt start to turn towards the final big celebration of the year, Christmas. Now, for various reasons including the need to meet a last posting date of October 13th for Canadian surface mail, I am rather spectacularly “on top” of the Christmas present buying this year and must confess to feeling unashamedly pleased with myself! Of course, this level of organisation almost definitely won’t result in a calm approach to December as there are still gifts to buy for the 3 most important people in my life and both G’s 12th birthday and our 16th wedding anniversary need to be celebrated before the big day itself.
The one advantage of being so prepared is that I have been able to focus my attention on preparing some Christmas shoe-boxes for this year’s Blythswood Care Shoe Box Appeal. Our church has been supporting this organisation for a number of years and in years past, G has also helped support this cause through her school. Last year was our first to actually prepare 2 shoe-boxes at home and this year G asked if we could fill 4 – 2 from her and 2 from M – a request I was more than happy to meet. As with the Teal Pumpkin Project, once again the idea is a simple one and will make a huge difference to those who receive one of these boxes this Christmas.
What is the Shoe Box Appeal?
Blythswood Care, as well as many other organisations, ask for donations of filled shoe-boxes, which are sent to individuals and families in need in some of the most destitute countries of the world. They are often the only gift these people will receive this Christmas and bring some seasonal joy in otherwise difficult and dismal situations.
- an empty shoe-box
- some Christmas wrapping paper
- same basic toiletries: soap, toothbrush and toothpaste are the bare minimum
- a pair of winter gloves and either a hat or a scarf, or both
- a selection of small toys, make-up, stationery and other bits and pieces to make your box an extra-special present to receive
The above items all need to be new and there are clear guidelines to follow in terms of purchasing sweets and toiletries/cosmetics for them. You can choose who you want to fill the shoe-box for and just need to clearly indicate the intended gender and age of the recipient.
What sorts of things should I add?
The choice of how to fill them is yours and really yours alone. As long as each box contains the basic toiletries and winter clothing requested, everything else is at your discretion. The nice thing is that you can spend as much or as little as you want and can afford. G, M and I visited our local pound shop and I encouraged them to pick out items that they thought their target audience (2 boys and 2 girls of approximately their age and younger) would enjoy opening on Christmas morning. Between them we ended up with bags of sweets, pencils, stickers, toy cars, Lego, Where’s Wally books, small puzzles and toy ponies.
Where do these boxes go?
In the case of Blythswood Care, the shoe-boxes are delivered to mainly Eastern European countries such as Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. They are then distributed locally to low-income families or families identified as having a particular need, who are unable to buy gifts themselves and are otherwise unlikely to be able to celebrate the Christmas season.
In our family, the children have chosen to fill these boxes because they both know how lucky they are to be able to count on a pile of presents to open on Christmas morning. Throughout the year, G has been sorting through bits and pieces in her bedroom and has kept asking to put things to one side to add to our boxes. We’ve taught them that these gifts are really something small that they can easily do and which will truly have a big and lasting impact.
How long do I have to fill my box?
The deadline is as fast approaching as Christmas itself, with many locations collecting boxes by November 6th 2015. If you want details of where to drop off your filled boxes, you can look at the collections schedule here or contact them directly on 01349 830777.
Are there other options?
Of course, there are a number of other charities and organisations out there that do similar work in a whole host of countries and for different individuals during the Christmas period and you might wish to support one of those instead:
- Elf and Reindeer Schemes – Post Pals: supporting sick children and their siblings across the UK
- Family and Elderly Shoebox Appeal 2015 – Link to Hope: gifts for families and the elderly in Eastern Europe
- Christmas Shoe-boxes – The Trussel Trust: for individuals in need in Bulgaria
- SOS Christmas Appeal – Support Our Soldiers: sending festive cheer to members of the British Armed Forces serving overseas
- Rotary Shoe box scheme – The Rotary Club: supporting children and households across Central and Eastern Europe throughout the year, not just at Christmas
Finally, if you want to see more about the difference these boxes make, please watch Blythswood Care’s video: