SINCE the Rotary Shoebox Scheme first began, one million boxes have been sent to underprivileged children in Eastern Europe.
In Gosport, we have been running the scheme for a number of years, working with several schools in the area.
The Rotary Shoebox Scheme originally started in 1994, when Rotary clubs in the north-west started collecting shoeboxes full of gifts for the people in the Romanian town of Iasi, situated in the north-east of the country.
The shoebox scheme became officially supported by Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland in 1997.
Val Scerri was the catalyst for the project, having links with Spurgeons Child Care Organisation which already had children’s homes in Romania.
“It was obvious that there was a great need for basic items which we take for granted in our daily lives and for toys for the children,” explained Clive Gardiner, from the Rotary Shoebox Scheme.
Since then, the scheme has become a national project supported not only by Rotary clubs, but also by individuals, schools, companies, churches, Inner Wheel, Rotaract and Interact.
Initial help from Rotary included building a kindergarten in Iasi.
Peter Clare visits regularly to ensure the demand is still there, and that the boxes are getting to the right recipients.
Clive said that there was still a great need in the countryside, as well as the homes for orphans and disabled children found in the cities.
He added: “We wish to extend further into Moldova by raising the number of boxes we can send, by increasing our supporters base.
“Gifts are now sent out throughout the year to many different countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Toys are especially useful all year round for birthday presents in the orphanages, homes and hospitals. All age groups, including teenagers, have welcomed the boxes.
“We have delivered to children and teenagers in orphanages, hospitals and also to street kids. Boxes have been received by adults in tuberculosis and AIDS hospitals, as well as to disadvantaged families, women’s refuges and to older folk in hostels with no supporting families.”
Not only have Rotary clubs got involved, but schools and universities have joined forces to collect gifts and pack shoeboxes ready for dispatch.
The Rotary Shoebox Scheme supplies the shoeboxes and asks clubs and organisations to fill them with a selection of small gifts for either children, teenagers, senior citizens, families and even new babies.
These are then transported from a warehouse in Preston, Lancashire, by road on an 1,800 mile journey to Eastern Europe, using Rotary clubs and other trusted partners to distribute them to those in need.
If your school or organisation would like to get involved with collecting for the Gosport Rotary Shoebox, please get in touch using the contact form on this website.
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