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‘Shoebox’ reflections by two 2017 volunteers


The Spirit of Christmas Present  

 

Sue and Harry Ward, started the collection of ‘Love in a Box’ shoeboxes in their local area in 2016. Whilst on the 2017 Supporters' Tour they volunteered to help Father Christmas to safely deliver shoeboxes to children and elderly people in Romania in December and were delighted their offer was accepted. "Perhaps the most difficult challenge of our trip was getting to Romania leaving Kent swathed in snow and fog and, via Stansted Airport only to find most flights cancelled. Luckily, our flight was still scheduled and we left four hours late to arrive at four in the morning.  Winter was still to arrive in Bucharest and they had a magical ride from the airport to the city centre with Christmas lights along the road. Father Christmas (an Assisted Traveller) on the other hand, having flown via Amsterdam airport was left in a locked down Otopeni airport awaiting assistance to get out."

Their abiding memories include a visit to the Nicolae Balcescu village school, a village with so many poor families Father Christmas had visited in previous years so his visit was eagerly awaited. The parish priest runs the village children's football team and a highlight of the visit was when Roy gave him football strips for the team, that were kindly donated by Middlesbrough Football Club. Our next challenge – the team need transport to get to matches! Another memory being the drive back into Bucharest and passing the mountains of white flowers laid in respect against the railings of the Royal Palace where His Majesty,  the late King Michael, lay  in state, and queues of people waiting to pay their homage to their former King.

Reflecting on their Shoebox Appeal experience, Harry and Sue considered the personal giving of a gift to another person, making the lives of both of us happier. "The connection Shoebox engenders in this country, amongst those working together making, collecting, storing, checking and packing the shoeboxes for transport. Moreover, the connection with those in Romania involved in the logistics. The raising awareness amongst children and adults of conditions and needs in other countries and the connection in friendship".

Their warm welcome in Romania, the palpable joy and excitement on the children's faces confirmed their feeling of privileged to have been able to help Father Christmas with his deliveries in 2017. They share their warmest of thanks to everyone who helped make ‘Love in a Box' 2017  possible and made Christmas happier for so many families in Romania.

 


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