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Christmas Shoeboxes 2020

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Well, another successful conclusion to Halmer End Methodist Church's 2020 Christmas Shoebox Appeal despite having concerns that we would be struggling to achieve anything like the 343 we filled in 2019 due to the ongoing pandemic. However, we continued to receive hand knitted donations from our wonderful group of knitters, and continued to collect other appropriate shoebox contents from November 2019 to October 2020.

We are so pleased to confirm we filled 379 children's shoeboxes and 34 home shoeboxes: so 413 in total, being an increase of 67 children's and 3 home shoeboxes on last year's very pleasing total of 343. We are so pleased and thankful for all the donations we received, and we would like to thank those from Audley Parish who contributed contents and donated filled shoeboxes and money towards the transportation which has been forwarded to Teams4U.

We concentrated more on boys' shoeboxes this year as there is always an imbalance between the number of boxes filled for the boys. Astonishingly or coincidentally, we filled the same number of girls' shoeboxes as last year being 155, but filled 224 boys' shoeboxes, being the aforementioned additional 67 children's shoeboxes.

In view of the lockdown restrictions, we abandoned our normal shoebox filling routine as there is normally approximately 14 or 15 in Church on Remembrance Sunday. We set out the tables in the top school room over a two-week period and over the following 10 — 14 days seven of the usual larger team operated in groups of 2 — 4 so we could socially distance ourselves. We saw the stock on the tables quickly dwindle even though it was replenished from the cardboard boxes lurking beneath. There was virtually nothing left by the close of Monday 9 November.

As the boxes were filled, they were packed into the large Teams4U cartons and put into the main Church ready to be blessed by David Rowley before collection. Clive Lawton, Burton upon Trent Regional Coordinator for Teams4U, collected them on Sunday 15 November.

In 2019 we made the easy decision to move away from Samaritan's Purse, with whom we had been involved since the early 2000's and send shoeboxes to Teams4U which is a charity set up in May 2006 by Dave Cooke, who has nearly 30 years' experience working within international relief and development.

In 1990 Dave, from Wrexham, was moved by the needs of the Romanian children he saw on the TV screen, so he put teams together and took aid to Romanian orphanages. Operation Christmas Child was born with the motto "Love in a box with no strings attached". However, as a victim of its own success and becoming unmanageable for Dave, Operation Christmas Child was amalgamated with Samaritan's Purse in 1994. In 2006 Dave founded Teams4U to enable many others to be able to have the opportunity and experience of working with and supporting vulnerable children and their families.

In 2015, Dave and his team of volunteers celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the "Love in a box with no strings attached" and returned to Cluj-Napoca, Romania to re-visit Dave's original partner from 1990 Liviu Balas, and brought shoeboxes to the marginalised communities there. The current need is still extraordinary and the power of the shoebox has never faded.

The Teams4U website is very informative and has useful videos of what they would like to see in the shoeboxes and home shoeboxes. See www.teams4u.com and go to "Shoebox Appeal"

Read the November Newsletter from Teams4U available with this article which includes details of Christmas Shoeboxes being delivered to children in East Staffordshire, part of Leicestershire and South Derbyshire.

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