Blythswood Ireland shipped a consignment of 7,000 shoeboxes packed with essential and practical items to schools, orphanages, hospitals and families to war ravaged Ukraine on December 12.
It was the second and final shipment of its annual shoebox appeal. Two weeks ago the first load was sent to Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, making a total for its Christmas 2019 appeal of 14,700.
The Ukraine consignment was checked and loaded up at Blythswood Ireland headquarters in Ballyclare to get there in time for Christmas.
Gary Anderson, CEO of Blythswood Ireland, paid tribute to the dedicated, unpaid team of volunteers, who have spent months packing shoeboxes to help provide aid to desperate communities.
He said: “The shoeboxes include items such as scarves, hats, gloves, toothpaste and toothbrushes and soap, things that we take for granted. We always include a small gift, something to help those receive them enjoy Christmas.”
Hundreds of schools, churches and individuals throughout Northern Ireland have given generously of their time to collect, fill and donate the shoeboxes. Every single shoebox is checked centrally by a team of volunteers who ensure that they are full and of equal value.
Mr Anderson added: “As far as our shoebox appeal is concerned it is Christmas all year round as we start thinking about the next Christmas in January. The operation to get them ready for transportation began in mid-October.”
The Moldova consignment of 7,700 boxes was checked by volunteers at Ballylaggan Reformed Presbyterian Church in Aghadowey, which every year constructs a ‘pop-up’ sorting and storage facility in its church hall. They were then sent to the Blythswood Ireland, Antrim facility for loading up and shipping out.
In the past 25 years, Blythswood has distributed more than two million shoeboxes to disadvantaged peoples in Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.
For more information about Blythswood, go to https://www.blythswoodireland.org/