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Ross-shire-based charity’s shoe box appeal delivers 83,000 boxes across Eastern Europe


By Niall Harkiss

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Brothers Rikardo, Jozsef and Zoltan, with boxes distributed to low-income families in Ozd, northern Hungary
Brothers Rikardo, Jozsef and Zoltan, with boxes distributed to low-income families in Ozd, northern Hungary

Almost 83,000 boxes were delivered to eight countries in Eastern Europe to set new standards for Evanton-based charity Blythswood Care’s annual shoe box appeal.

Filled with small, practical items such as toiletries, stationery and clothing the boxes have been distributed in schools, hospitals, orphanages and care homes, and to households in very low income communities.

The charity’s head of projects, Finlay Mackenzie said: “It has been another tremendous effort by donors and volunteers. We received boxes from Shetland to Cornwall and from Kent to Northern Ireland.

“Because it’s not so easy to send boxes to European Union countries, we sent more than previously to Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine.”

On December 24, the last load was delivered to Ukraine where Christmas is celebrated on January 6, following the Orthodox tradition.

Sorting stations in which donated boxes are checked and processed by volunteers followed Covid safety guidelines with social distancing, face masks and hand sanitiser. “I’m glad we completed the process before the omicron wave arrived,” Finlay says. “It has been a real logistical challenge but those who organise sorting stations were building on experience from last year.”

This year’s total of 82,952 boxes beat last year’s by over 7000 and brought the total since the appeal began in 1993 to 2.56 million.

“These gifts mean so much to those who receive them,” Finlay says. “I’d just like to thank everyone who donated and volunteered.”

This year’s total of 82,952 boxes beat last year’s by over 7000. Picture: Gary Anthony.
This year’s total of 82,952 boxes beat last year’s by over 7000. Picture: Gary Anthony.

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