Staff at Leeds Castle this year have donated a grand total of 62 gift-filled shoeboxes to under-privileged children in Romania and Ukraine, as part of a charitable activity headed by the Mustard Seed Relief Mission. The ‘Love in a Box’ shoeboxes are part of a mission to send gifts and toys to under-privileged children in Eastern Europe. This year was the highest ever donated by Castle staff, who have donated shoeboxes for almost 10 years.
Containing toys, books, hats, scarves and many more items, the shoeboxes are sent every year in October to ensure they are delivered to children in time for Christmas. Leeds Castle is just one of many organisations who volunteer to collect and pack selected gifts into the shoeboxes, and around 30,000 shoeboxes are sent each year to thousands of children.
Lisa Smart, Head of the Trustees for the Mustard Seed Relief Mission, says although the charity has been running for 27 years, the need for donations are as important as ever before.
“We send the boxes to orphanages in Romania, Ukraine, and to churches in Moldova”, says Smart. “It is truly heart-breaking to see some of the children over there. Our shoeboxes are sometimes the only gifts they receive that year, so the children really look forward to it.”
For every shoebox donated, one child is guaranteed their own individual box full of gifts. This element of the Mustard Seed’s operation is one of the best known, and the donations mean thousands of underprivileged children will have at least one thing to open this Christmas season.
And Smart believes the charitable act provides children with more than just a day of happiness.
“Sometimes they even keep the shoeboxes with them until the following year,” Smart says. “We once also collected shoeboxes that were ready to be delivered from a private school in London. A teaching assistant at the school came out as we were collecting the boxes, and said that she actually remembered receiving her own shoebox as a child, many, many years ago, and look where she is now. The shoeboxes really do provide them with hope.”
If you wish to get involved with the mission next year, visit www.msrm.org.uk/liab for more information.