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How did the Soroptimists break their own record for filling Christmas shoeboxes?

Little did we know when starting our preparations early on in lockdown and doing things differently that the Medway and Maidstone Soroptimists would manage to break our own record and fill an amazing 116 shoeboxes this year for the Blythswood Care Shoebox Appeal.

Back in September when we met for the first time since lockdown for our Memory Walk , we took advantage to distribute wrapped shoeboxes for filling plus scarves, hats and gloves that one of our members and family supporters had been busy knitting for members to take away and fill safely at home.

Other members unable to get out due to shielding, donated monies for essential items as fillers for the boxes.  Another member acted as a Personal Shopper purchasing the filler items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletries, underwear, small toys, sweets, stationery, clothes, and other items.

The combined efforts of members along with family and friends of the club meant that 116 shoeboxes were successfully delivered by Sue Daykin and Jane Barnes to the Blythswood Collection Point in Gillingham that is receiving filled shoeboxes from all over London and the South East plus Leicestershire.

The Collection Point is open from 26 October – 12 December to receive shoeboxes for checking and packaging before onward transmission to Romania and Serbia.  Five members are volunteering regularly throughout this period at the Collection Point that is operating under strict Covid restrictions to ensure the safety of all. It is a great way to meet up with others safely during lockdown 2 for a chat and coffee break whilst doing something useful to help others.

At our November Zoom club meeting, Medway and Maidstone Soroptimists heard an excellent presentation from Susi Shears, Area Fundraising Manager, Blythswood Care about the work they do through Education, Community and Gospel and how they have responded to the Covid pandemic to maintain vital services in Eastern Europe and Pakistan.

The Shoebox Appeal is such a worthwhile cause where we can make such a difference to lives that are otherwise almost hopeless.  Susi spoke about all the projects she has seen in Romania and how when you see the smiles on the faces of the children and adults who face difficulties every day, through poverty, illness, disability, or other disadvantages, receive a shoebox which brings each one such joy at Christmas time.