From Cumbria to Romania: how Boxes of Hope charity lights up a child's Christmas
Boxes of Hope is a shining beacon of how a small charity can work with its local communities. The Cumbrian-based charity gets local communities together with the common aim of helping deprived children in Eastern Europe.
Each Christmas the charity puts together brightly wrapped shoeboxes full of locally donated toys and gifts, guaranteed to light up a child’s face.
The boxes are for children in Romania who are the forgotten children of Europe, many of them living in mud huts with no running water or other basic facilities.
This year volunteers are heading out to Romanian villages, orphanages and a garbage tip near Cluj, in the north-west, where 1,000 children live in makeshift wooden shelters.
The shoeboxes give the children hope and joy, and a bit of Christmas magic. For many, it is the first gift they have ever received in their lives.
Each shoebox contains gifts including soap, facecloth, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush and hair accessories; educational items such as pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, rubbers, colouring books and notebooks, sweets, toys and games including soft toys, dominoes, dolls, cars and small musical instruments.
Rosemary Webster, a trustee for the charity, explains: “Some children we have met do not know what a toy is, and their faces are often blank when they open a shoebox, until the contents are taken out and shown to them.”
Our need for donations is endless
Donations are also used to provide financial support to a special school run by their partner charity, People to People Foundation. The school aims to educate 175 primary age Roma children to the same standard as state schools.
Rosemary says: “We ask for £2 per box which helps towards expenses, and this can be paid using MyDonate. We are all volunteers, so any surplus goes to our education account. The school costs €5,000 (nearly £4,000) per month, and is funded by us and by other charities, so our need for donations is endless.”
She adds: “We chose MyDonate because it is a convenient way for people to donate online. We do not have a target, our work is ongoing and we need as much help as people are willing to give us.”