This year’s appeal for ‘real’ or ‘virtual’ gift-filled shoeboxes has, in the light of the on-going hardships and restrictions relating to Covid-19, had a marvellous local response as follows:
- Six local schools contributed about 180 shoeboxes and more than £480 in cash.
- Cranleigh and local village community members donated about 165 boxes (plus many, many other gifts) and more than £200 in cash.
These totals of almost 350 boxes and about £690 in cash were significantly supplemented by nearly 80 cash donations on the Rotary’s ‘Romanian Appeal’ JustGiving weblink which amounted to some £3,200 (plus more than £315 in Gift Aid). In addition to local community benefactors, donations were also received from several church parishes and communities around UK, such as Christ Church, Upper Armley, Leeds; Hightown Baptist Church, Luton; St. Clements Church, Poole; St. Joseph’s Trust, Cranleigh; and Hope Church, Sevenoaks. These donations (in effect = ‘virtual shoeboxes’) reflected the fact that, due to the pandemic, many regular donors felt unable to pursue their normal collection of gift-filled shoeboxes.
Moreover, Tidcombe Community Church, Devon delivered some 390 shoeboxes to Cranleigh and several parishes in the Midlands delivered a batch of 180 boxes, and so over 900 shoeboxes were despatched from Cranleigh on 28th November (plus several boxes of clothing and household items).
As usual, the shoeboxes, and other gifts, were packed in cartons and loaded on pallets at the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) barn (at the southern end of Rowly Drive), all in readiness for onward transport by truck to Romania (via The Netherlands where more boxes will be collected). Again, we are most grateful for RDA’s invaluable cooperation in using their barn and, not least, to Dick Lane for him using his fork-lift truck to load the pallets onto the ‘gigantic’ truck.
The boxes will be distributed, as before, to disadvantaged families in Hunedoara, western Romania, by Pastor Corneliu Medrea who, together with his wife Diana, set up the local Bethlehem Centre (www.betelccb.ro) in the 1990’s. The donated money will be solely used by Pastor Medrea to purchase suitable gifts for deprived children.
As well as conducting Christian activities, the Bethlehem Centre also seeks to develop practical projects to meet the dire physical and material needs of those around them. They have used donated practical and financial aid over the years to create not only a community social-care centre, but also to provide hygiene facilities for children in families with no running water or electricity, as well as a daily-meals programme for children with little or no food. They also operate after-school clubs to support the educational needs of illiterate children.
So, again, many, many thanks to all donors and helpers.
David Barry – Cranleigh Rotary