30 years of Christmas Shoeboxes

“The power of the Shoebox Appeal never fails to amaze me! I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years now, and it’s never stopped surprising me how much love there is in people’s hearts towards people they’ve never met. I’m privileged to meet people, now adults, who received a shoebox decades ago, and they still light up when they talk about what it was like receiving one.

Dave Cooke, Founder

The History of the Shoebox Appeal

It’s been over 30 years since the Cooke family originated the idea of the ‘Christmas Shoebox’, asking children in the UK to fill shoeboxes with stocking fillers for Romanian children.

In 1990, after watching the news on TV about the state of Ceausescu’s orphanages in Romania, Dave, with the help of some friends, drove an aid wagon from the UK, full of medical supplies, beds, blankets and clothes to radically change the horrific conditions in which these children were living.

What he didn’t know (and no-one knew) was that the few thousand shoebox gifts that went across with the convoy from Wrexham (Wales), would grow into the biggest shoebox programme in the world.



Our charity, founded by Dave Cooke in 2006, established our own Shoebox Appeal in 2013, and have since sent nearly 270,000 Christmas Shoeboxes to children and families in Bosnia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uganda and Romania.

T4U Shoebox Appeal 2021

People say ‘it’s just a shoebox’ but it isn’t. It tells that child, someone, somewhere, has done this for them; that someone cares about them.”

Dave Cooke

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