Many Romanian teens will receive the gift of creativity this Christmas after a local retailer donated enough pens, pencils and notebooks to fill 250 festive charity shoeboxes.
Paperclix donated the stationery items to Mustard Seed as part of their annual shoebox appeal.
Every year, the charity founded in 1998 by Rose Helie-Pallot sends shoeboxes filled with gifts for all ages to Romania.
Last year’s appeal saw over 3,321 packages containing toys, toiletries musical instruments and even hand-knit hats from Sark shipped out.
Most of the boxes are packed by islanders and then checked by the charity which then sends them out in time for Christmas.
This year, Ms Helie-Pallot decided the charity would pack some boxes for teenagers to ensure children and adults were not the only ones receiving a treat on 25 December.
“Because we always have a shortfall of Christmas shoebox boxes for the 12 to 16 age range, I decided that this year we would try to pack up 250 from scratch ourselves,” she explained.
Ms Helie-Pallot contacted the Romanian social workers the charity works with to find out what the young people would prefer and discovered they valued the school items, stationary items and writing materials in the boxes.
With only a limited budget, Ms Helie-Pallot contacted Paperclix asking if they could supply pens, pencils, rubbers, felt pens and the other items she wanted to put in the boxes at cost price. But their reply exceeded the charity’s expectations.
Pictured: Last year, Mustard Seed sent over 3,000 shoeboxes to Romania.
“I knew that that was the only hope I had of getting most of what I wanted into the boxes,” she explained. “I wrote my 250-wish list and emailed it to Paperclix. I did say what our budget was and because Paperclix has been incredibly supportive in the past I was hopeful that it might be possible to get most of what I wanted if they would give it to us at cost price. I knew if we were looking at the retail price it was an absolute non-starter.”
“Within a few days, I had a response,” Ms Helie-Pallot continued. “When I looked at the invoice and saw there wasn’t a price on it. I assumed it was a mistake and contacted them to ask how much it was going to cost and it was only then that I finally realised that this was a donation and being given absolutely for free.”
Ms Helie-Pallot said the donation would mean a lot to the young people who will receive the boxes.
She also issued a reminder to islanders that there is still time to pack a shoebox or donate money for food, sweets, winter fuel or medical needs, as the appeal will close on 27 October.
A list of suggested items to pack in the boxes is available on the charity’s Facebook page. They include soft toys, marbles and writing material for young children, as well as toiletries, torches, clothes and tinned foods.
“Here in Jersey many of us suffered during lockdown, but for the poor in Romania (and other countries) it was far worse,” the charity said.
“Mustard Seed Jersey focuses on the Bihor county of Romania and during the lock-down we were able to assist with funds for food and toiletries. It is those same desperately poor people we want to bless with a gift this Christmas.”
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