In early October, Medway and Maidstone Soroptimists were contacted by the Blythswood Care Organisers to say the Christmas Shoebox Appeal Collection Point for London and South East would be based in Gillingham again this year and would be open from 26 October – 12 December and they were looking for volunteers. Assurance was given that all precautions would be put in place to ensure full compliance with government regulations to provide a safe working environment for all volunteers.
Five members, Janet, Julia, Jane, Sue and Wanda volunteered to work at the Collection Point initially helping set up the Covid-compliant workstations and then were assigned where they would work each shift either checking the filled shoeboxes or packing the cartons with shoeboxes ready to be transported by lorry to their final destinations in Moldova, Romania and Serbia. Between the 5 members they provided a total of 100 hours service to the Appeal.
Leicestershire did not have their own Collection Point and so their shoeboxes were transported down to Gillingham and so Janet, Wanda and Jane volunteered for an additional Saturday shift to assist with unloading 2300 shoeboxes and putting them into 72-hour quarantine before checking process could begin.
The total shoeboxes from the London and South East area was 12,744 and the total for Blythswood is 75,218 which in this current climate was a great achievement by everyone involved. Most pleasing of all was seeing the smiling faces of those adults and children in Eastern Europe receiving the shoeboxes in time for Christmas.