Island effort helps success of Shoe Box Appeal

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Blythswood Care’s 2013 Shoe Box Appeal produced 118,000 gift-filled boxes for strangers in need in Europe and Asia.

The result matches almost exactly the previous year’s total despite the fact that many donors are feeling the pinch at home.

“It’s so heart-warming to see again the generosity of people around the UK,” says Blythswood’s chief executive James Campbell. “Many of those who fill boxes have young families of their own and have to watch every penny they spend.

“But still they have made the effort to contribute personal and practical gifts that will bring joy to a stranger in need far way.

“On behalf of Blythswood and of those who received the gifts I want to say thank you to everyone who supported our 21st Shoe Box Appeal.”

Boxes were contributed by schools, churches, workplaces and individuals throughout the UK, from Unst in the Shetlands to Penzance in Cornwall, and including Northern Ireland.

Containing toiletries, clothes, sweets, toys and other every-day items, they were distributed in eight countries in Eastern Europe before Christmas, going to orphanages, schools, hospitals, care homes and gypsy villages. Nearly 15,000 were also sent to Pakistan.

The appeal has taken place every year since 1993 and has become a major logistical exercise with teams of volunteers checking that each box complies with customs regulations. “About one and half thousand volunteers have worked in sorting stations from the Isle of Lewis to Somerset,” says James Campbell. “Without their help we just couldn’t handle it and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude too.”