Team Hope’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal is right around the corner — here’s everything you need to know
Shoebox Week runs from 31 October — 6 November, and now’s the time to help spread a smile to vulnerable children across the globe just in time for Christmas.
Team Hope’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal is an annual campaign that delivers gifts straight into the hands of children affected by poverty in 13 countries across Eastern Europe and Africa.
More often than not, these shoeboxes are the only gift that a child will receive at Christmas, and the joy that they bring is truly incredible. Since 2010, Team Hope have delivered over 2.1 million shoeboxes to vulnerable children across the world.
Calling on schools, families and communities all over Ireland to build a shoebox at home or online and help make a child smile this Christmas, the charity is helping to make a real and vital impact in the lives of those in need. Accepting shoebox gifts right up until 8 November, now’s the time to get into the spirit of the season of giving and spread some love, joy and generosity in time for Christmas.
How to fill a shoebox
Filling a shoebox can be a very personal and thoughtful process. Creating a gift for a child living in poverty means that you can include some essentials along with some fun bits. See below how to create the perfect shoebox gift.
Start off by wrapping your box and lid separately in some snazzy festive wrapping paper, then decide who your gift is for. It can be for a girl or boy ages between 2 and 14. You can download a label from the Team Hope website, and stick it to the top right-hand corner of your shoebox lid.
When you’re filling up your shoebox, Team Hope ask that you include items from their four Ws list: write, wash, wear and wow. This could include pens and paper, toys and toiletries, and clothes.
Don’t forget to add €4 to help us get your box to a child. You can donate online or include cash in the envelope provided with the leaflet. You can place the cash envelope on top of your gifts inside the box.
Hold the box together with a large elastic band to make sure it’s secure, and then find your local drop-off site via the Team Hope website.
Originally from Tirgu-Mures, Romania, Deborah Rend lived with her parents and four siblings in a small apartment with only one bedroom and one living room. Her father worked in construction and her mother stayed at home with the kids. With two brothers and a sister, it was very cramped with no private space and everything was shared. Deborah and each of her siblings got something of their own one Christmas when they each received a shoebox.
Deborah received a number of shoeboxes over the years from when she was around 6 years of age and remembers the sweets, toys and stationery inside the boxes. She found it unbelievable that she had something of her own and appreciated how special it was to receive something while she was in need.
One special year, she remembers getting a pair of pretend princess heels that belonged to the girl who made the shoebox. She sent a letter and mentioned they were her favourite shoes. Deborah remembers how it really touched her heart knowing that someone sacrificed one of their favourite things to bless someone they didn’t even know.
Deborah permanently moved to Ireland two years ago and settled in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. During the height of the pandemic, she found it very hard to meet people and make friends as she has no family here. After joining Youth for Christ, her pastor introduced her to her now-husband, Liam Burke, originally from Kilkenny and based in Mullingar since 2016.
They married in April 2022 and both are involved in Youth for Christ where Liam is actually the Director. The Youth for Christ premises is also used as the Mullingar Checking Centre for packing shoeboxes for Team Hope’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal. It is a huge part of Deborah and Liam’s lives where they volunteer. Deborah’s connection with the Christmas Shoebox Appeal makes packing shoeboxes all the more special. She says that making boxes give her so much joy because she knows how it feels to receive one.
Deborah works in a children learning resources shop, The Learning Lab, in Mullingar where she loves to see the joy on children’s faces every day, not unlike the feeling that packing shoeboxes gives her due to making a child smile.