Buying shoes online is a new experience for me. Ordinarily, I prefer the tactile experience of trying them on, the feel of them on my feet, weighing them up with my eyes and hands. But when the parcel arrived it felt like Christmas. I slowly opened up the box cradling my newborns as the near identical twins, lying heel to toe and wrapped in swaddling, revealed themselves. How pristine and perfect they looked. I hope they fit. But what of the box? More precious to me than the contents it contained. This year instead of discarding it I kept it.
I took the shoebox along with my husband, 10 year-old daughter and the gifts donated by the Hurtwood Community to the Link to Hope warehouse in Worthing. We joined the team of six other volunteers wrapping and filling empty boxes with toothpaste, toothbrushes, colouring pens and books, soft toys, gloves, solar powered calculators and other assorted gifts for families and the elderly living in poverty in Eastern Europe, often in remote villages which lack basic amenities. The boxes will be transported in time to be opened at Christmas.
In 2019, over 37 000 present-filled shoe boxes were transported to Romania, Bulgaria and East Ukraine. This year around 17,000 boxes will be delivered. There has been a significant drop in contributions as churches, schools, girl guides and other community groups have suffered tight restrictions and Link’s charity shops have been forced to close. In previous years we have taken a minibus of students to volunteer but due to Covid restrictions we were not able to, so your donations have been even more gratefully received this year.
A big thank you to everyone who donated money and gifts and I hope that next year we can offer more of our time, too. Don’t feel that you have to buy shoes in order to get the box but perhaps next time keep it and pass it on to me. Or even fill one and wrap it yourself.
Find out more at: https://linktohope.co.uk/
Stella, Mark & Maya