Norwich church leads UK in shoebox aid appeal
2009: A Norwich church has become the biggest collection point in the UK for Christmas shoeboxes sent to Eastern Europe as part of Link Romania family shoebox appeal.
The scheme has been in existence since 1992 and has brought happiness and hope to many thousands of people over the years. Phil Thorne, Senior Minister at City Church said, “It's a really simple idea that one of our members, Shirley Hampson, adopted for Norwich some 15 years ago. Shirley has tirelessly worked with a team of volunteers over the years and the collection from City Church Norwich is now the biggest collection point in the UK. Today at one of our church sites, City Gates Centre, we loaded an articulated lorry with 1433 Christmas shoe boxes destined for Romania.”
Over the years, Link Romania have sent in excess of 450,000 shoeboxes to over 80 different locations. Shirley said, “Anyone can pack up a shoebox to send as a Christmas gift to a desperately poor family in Eastern Europe. These boxes are given to poor families many of whom do not have running water, heating or electricity. Some live in terrible conditions and struggle to survive. No one is interested in them and we want to show we love and care for them.”
Shoeboxes are for a family. The need is just as great whether aged 8 or 80. The families that are given shoeboxes generally live in one or two rooms together in the same house – parents, children, grandparents and sometimes aunts, uncles and cousins too, so each member of the family has a gift not only the children.
The boxes are transported and distributed to all sorts of locations, from remote villages, to hospital wards, to charity kindergartens and shanty towns. Shoeboxes are taken by horse and cart, often in snow and on the mud roads that are still very much a feature of the countryside.
The gifts are small toys, school supplies, sweets and toiletries, which are treasured by the families who receive them.
For more information or how to get involved, please contact the City Church Office, City Gates Centre, Cowgate, Norwich Telephone 01603 632904.