For years, students across Ireland have filled shoeboxes to the brim of goodies for disadvantaged children across the world to help spread the spirit of Christmas, but this year everything is going to change.
Like with many things the past few months, due to the impact of COVID-19 and the many restrictions currently in place, both staff and volunteers at Team Hope feel it is impossible to continue with the annual shoebox drive and send the gift-filled boxes from Ireland this year.
Instead, they are asking members of the public, schools, communities and businesses to “Team up, for Team Hope,” and donate money and build their box online.
Team Hope aims to work closely with a network of local partners in Africa and Eastern Europe to buy the specially selected items for the Christmas shoeboxes, which will then be delivered directly into the hands of children in thirteen countries such as Ukraine, Albania and Malawi.
Set to be launched on September 1st, the build your own box will cost €20 and will contain all the details on how to take part. You will be able to select items from the 4W’s as well as creative activity sheets which can be coloured in and uploaded with your donation to tell the child who gets your box a little more about you. The 4W’s are something to write with, wash with, wear and wow, like a toy of some sort to suit the particular age group like a skipping rope, tennis balls, stickers or a toy car.
Last year 270,488 boxes brought smiles to faces to some of the world's most impoverished children, possibly the only gift they received at Christmas and this year Team Hope hopes to smash that target.
Since the announcement, both children and adults have expressed their disappointment across social media as many people had bulk bought items or handmade pieces during lockdown but unfortunately, there is no way around the restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic.
Team Hope has since asked if anyone knitted or crocheted items suitable for the Christmas Shoebox appeal to get in touch with them via their social media channels or by email at [email protected] And if you have been collecting toiletries, toys or clothing over the past couple of months, lots of places will gladly take them, including homeless services and direct provision centres.