Christian charity Blythswood Care celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Shoe Box Appeal this year. During the 20 years, 1.6 million shoe boxes have been distributed.
Last year, Blythswood sent 118,000 shoeboxes filled with necessities to people in need in countries such as Albania, Serbia and Pakistan. In Europe, boxes were distributed to orphanages, hospitals and schools; and they were given to low-earning families in Pakistan.
A Bible story was added to each box. Blythswood’s chief executive James Campbell said, ‘Filling a shoebox is a great way of showing kindness to a stranger in need; it’s both practical and personal at the same time’.
Churches in the Kirklees area such as Dewsbury Evangelical Church, Staincliffe Baptist Church and Mirfield Evangelical Church have regularly taken part in the Shoe Box Appeal; their members filled many boxes with toiletries, stationery, sweets and small items of clothing.
Derek Ventress, the pastor at Staincliffe, said, ‘We encourage everyone connected with the church to put together shoe boxes. We also pray for the work because we want to help both the physical and spiritual needs of those who receive the boxes’.
Two-year-old Florenti and his sister Floresita were among the many children to receive shoe boxes last year. Their family lives in poverty, as their home in Kosovo constantly floods. The boxes contained desperately needed items, such as shampoo, toothpaste, warm clothing and school supplies.
‘When the shoeboxes came to our house it was a miracle’, their mum Mimoza said. ‘I couldn’t even buy these things for my family. Thank you all for thinking about us!’
Similarly, Cornerstone Church in Brighouse takes part in the Samaritan’s Purse Shoebox Appeal to help people in need. The pastor, Steve Bowers, said, ‘The church feels that it is a really practical way of helping children in different countries — it makes a real difference! Also, it teaches the children here how well-off they are, encouraging them to help others’.