By Bejay Browne
VOLUNTEERS in Paphos are appealing to the public to donate gifts or money to help fill hundreds of shoe boxes with Christmas presents for needy children in the area and to help deliver them on Christmas Eve.
The initiative, called ‘A Gift of Love’, was started last year on behalf of Solidarity charity which is currently struggling to feed hundreds families of the district.
Solidarity was set up in 2012 by Pavlina Patsalou and George Sofokleous and helps all those in need, of any nationality or background.
The Christmas Gift of Love venture has been organised by volunteers Mikka Heaney, Dikla Smith and Soula Christodoulou
“We have already collected a number of boxes and we need to keep going. We would like to thank everyone for their support and generosity,” Heaney said. “For anyone making a shoe box of their own, we would recommend toiletries, hats, scarves, gloves, toys, fashion accessories and gift vouchers.”
Gifts are being divided into two year categories for example newborn to two years, two to four years and so on up to the age of 18.
The idea is to decorate a regular shoe box and lid and fill it with a selection of toys for children. Boxes must be clearly marked if they are for boys or girls and the age category.
This year, the charity is also arranging for the gift boxes to be delivered to the children’s homes on Christmas Eve and is looking for volunteers to help. Heaney said that volunteers to act as ‘Santa’s helpers’ are urgently needed to deliver the gifts to all areas in Paphos, including villages.
Volunteers will also check all of the boxes to ensure gifts are age appropriate.
“We hope to deliver all of the presents at sundown on Christmas Eve.”
Christodoulou explained that the charity wanted to ensure that all children in families facing financial problems and needing support were provided with a gift for the holiday season.
“The goal is to provide them with the necessities and a few ‘luxury’ items so they do not feel they are second best,” she said.
Heaney said that whilst some people may want to shop for the gifts others might prefer to donate money. In this case, volunteers will purchase the presents for them. Solidarity has estimated that each box will cost around €10 to fill. If donations exceed the required amount for gifts, the money will be used to buy food such as meat for the children’s families.
The team hopes to reach a goal of 400 or so gift boxes. A list of both necessary and fun items, along with the age groups, suggestions of gift ideas and drop off points are available on the group’s Facebook page.
Heaney said that a number of schools are joining in the venture this year, hoping to raise a significant amount of money, around 200 euros per school. On the last day of term pupils will wear what they like, whilst teachers will dress in school uniform to raise funds.
“The pupils and teachers of schools will hopefully donate one euro each and it will be fun for both, whilst also raising funds for a good cause,” Heaney said.
Any other fun or festive initiatives by organisations, businesses or individuals would also be welcomed, said the volunteer.
“We want to ensure that every baby and child in Paphos from newborns up to 18 years will have a special gift under the tree on Christmas day.”
All boxes need to be completed no later than December 18. In addition to Solidarity charity, drop off points are available across Paphos. Details are available at the dedicated Facebook page or from volunteers.
In Search for Gift of love-Solidarity on Facebook. A new website with all the necessary information will also be online soon www.gift-of-love-solidarity.org
Or contact Mikka Heaney 96462558, Dikla Smith 97789099, Soula Christodoulou 97829504