Action Zones 

Dismay as shoeboxes charity pulls the plug 

28th September 2015

by Liz Coates
Senior reporter
Eastern Daily Press and Great Yarmouth Mercury

shoebox closure 2015Picture shows Attleborough High School and Sixth Form Centre once again participated in the Shoebox Appeal

The local co-ordinator of an axed charity shoebox appeal has thanked everyone in the Great Yarmouth area who contributed over the last eight years

More than 10,000 gift-filled boxes have been shipped from the borough to Eastern Europe, bringing festive cheer to youngsters who might otherwise receive nothing

But Smile International the national charity behind the local effort has pulled the plug on the collection for the foreseeable future, citing transport costs of £7000.

East of England co-ordinator David Minister, of Ormesby, said he was shocked but not entirely surprised by the decision

Local folk, he said, had taken the appeal to their hearts with schools, churches and individuals all filling boxes with goodies - the charity effort offering a welcome antidote to the consumer driven hype of Christmas

That the collection will not take place this festive season has upset some community groups like Winterton Women’s Institute who have already started knitting and gathering toys and toiletries

Ormesby Village Junior School was also a regular contributor, with up to 80 colourfully wrapped boxes stacked in teetering towers in the school’s entrance hall

Mr Minister said he was saddened by the decision, stressing that it was taken at a national level and in no way reflected on the efforts in Yarmouth, where volunteers manned a seasonal shop every year in Middle Market Road receiving and checking the gifts.

“It cost £7000 to transport the shoeboxes and aid last year, making it more logical to buy the supplies in Kosovo itself, supporting the local economy and jobs

“I will therefore no longer be co-ordinating the Smile shoebox appeal"

“In the many years that Great Yarmouth has been involved with the appeal we have sent over 10,000 boxes, countless aid and established good working links with other organisations and individuals throughout the town. Every single one of those boxes made a difference to someone’s life, well done Great Yarmouth!"

“I was shocked but not entirely surprised by the decision. A big genuine thank you to everyone who has supported us, many of them from day one of the first appeal"

“There are other shoebox appeals and worthy causes including the emerging migrant crisis, so please keep knitting and donating. Thanks again for your support throughout all the years”

Mr Minister said he had however noticed a small dip in the number of donations as people who had supported them year after year were perhaps looking for something different to get involved with

reproduced from the Yarmouth Mercury website and used with permission