A Gift in Hard Times

This Christmas our Shoebox Appeal is spreading joy to children in difficult situations around the world.

“We know these have been very hard times. For our friends and family at home and for many people overseas. The pandemic has pushed millions of people over the poverty line and made desperate situations a hundred times worse.

We are so humbled, that it is still in people’s hearts to support our Shoebox Appeal and continue spreading joy to children.”

Dave Cooke, Founder

Where do your shoeboxes go?

From across the UK, your shoebox gifts will travel to orphanages in Belarus; and to deprived communities in Bosnia, Georgia, Romania and Moldova.

Your shoebox gifts are given to people forced to leave their homes through decades long (and often out of sight of media interest) conflict; to those without homes; to children who have lost parents or been abandoned; and to those who face intense discrimination in their own countries, forcing them to live on the outskirts of their societies.

Bosnia

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country with a population of only 3.8 million people. Approximately one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty-line, with a further 50 percent of the country vulnerable to social exclusion. The impact of the pandemic is expected to push Bosnia and Herzegovina into its worst recession in 25 years with an estimated 139,000 people losing their jobs. The World Bank believes the consequences of COVID will cause 300,000 more people to fall into poverty across the Western Balkans.

Your shoeboxes are distributed through The Red Cross to Internally Displaced People groups (it is estimated that there are still 99,000 IDPs living in the country) and refugees. 

Belarus

Over 20,000 children live as registered orphans in Belarus and are cared for by the government in institutions that house between 100-150 children. Many have additional physical and/or learning needs and few are ever adopted. COVID has impacted financial support for these orphanages with many not able to afford fresh vegetables or other basic supplies. 

Teams4U supported four orphanages with Polytunnels this year, to support the growing of fresh produce. Read more…

Your boxes are given to children in orphanages around the Minsk area of Belarus, as well as to marginalised communities in rural provinces.  

“COVID has changed our usual world. Everything turned upside down in just one year. But love shared from heart-to-heart remains unchanged. Together, with you, we give hope, and are a source of blessings in so many homes.”

Dima Nachyna, Project Lead in Belarus.

Georgia

Georgia is a small country just below Russia, above Turkey, and west of the Black Sea. Since gaining independence from the USSR, Georgia has experienced a history of political and territorial conflict with Russia. This has created a unique crisis forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, but they still remain in their country. They are known as internally displaced persons (IDPs). Thousands of people remain affected.

Your shoeboxes will be distributed through the Red Cross in IDP camps around Batumi, in the coastal region of Georgia.

“We call this place ‘paper town’. We come and listen to the wishes the children have. Some of them just want a ball to play. There are a lot of children who are waiting for their wishes to come true.”

Batumi Branch, Red Cross

Romania

Your shoeboxes will be distributed in the Arad and Bihor counties of Western Romania. 

Romania has always ranked highly within the EU for the percentage of its people at risk of poverty. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been heightened concerns about the effects on a country that already has higher-than-average rates of social exclusion (where poverty prevents people engaging with society).

“[In 2020] I’ve distributed over 10,000 gifts into dozens of towns and received thousands of smiles from children I’ve never known. The joy hidden in these little colourful and sparkling gifts can only be told by the children who waited for them, with expectation and emotion in their hearts. One boy even told me he thought his gift came directly from heaven.”

Raul Gherle, Project Lead in Bihor, Romania.

Moldova

Moldova is considered the lowest-income country in Europe with parts of the population living on salaries of less than £2 a day. Only 43% of those living in abject poverty have access to clean water and 25% of children have no access to secondary education.

In 2020, Moldova was simultaneously hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the most severe droughts in 20 years, with an estimated 70,000 jobs lost – 50% of them in the 35-44yrs age bracket affecting many people with young families.

Your boxes will be distributed in orphanages; to families referred by the Moldovan Government’s social care program, and to the most marginalised in Northern Moldova.