Cyprus Mail

A gift of love this Christmas

Jenny Kelly (left) and Emma Yianni getting ready for Christmas

By Bejay Browne

VOLUNTEERS in Paphos are appealing to the public to help fill hundreds of shoeboxes with Christmas gifts for needy children in the area. They also require knitters and quilters to help make baby blankets and jumpers, mostly for children.

The initiative is called ‘A Gift of Love’ and is the idea of two Paphos-based women, Jenny Kelly and Emma Yianni, acting on behalf of Solidarity charity of Paphos. The charity is currently struggling to feed hundreds families of the district.

Pavlina Patsalou, co-founder of Solidarity, said that blankets and jumpers mostly for kids were needed.

“We also need to try and collect gift-filled shoeboxes for Christmas for about 300 children so far. There may be more by December,” she said.

“Any help which the public can give will be really appreciated,” she added.

The volunteers say they only have one month to collect as many boxes as possible before the end of November, when they will be handed over to the charity.

The idea is to decorate a regular shoe box and lid and fill it with a selection of toys for children of three different age categories. Boxes must be clearly marked if they are for boys or girls and aged between 3-5 years, 6-11 years and 12–15 years.

“It’s our aim to try and give each needy child a shoebox this Christmas to ensure that none of them go without,” Kelly said.

“I know that it’s a lot to ask, but we are hoping that the community will come together and show these children that they are special and loved and get involved in the act of giving to a child.”

The volunteer said: “Although Christmas is a Christian celebration, we see it as a chance to bring gifts to children of all faiths who would otherwise go without.”

The shoe box needs to have a separate lid and each part needs to be decorated. People may obviously put in any appropriate gifts they want, but Kelly suggested that a box might contain, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a flannel, a ball, doll or small game and a hat and gloves.

“It might seem odd to suggest these basic toiletries, but for some people living in poverty, these are luxuries they usually have to share,” she said:
The volunteers have asked that those donating gifts not to include toy guns or similar toys

The volunteers have set up a webpage which explains about gift ideas for the children, decoration ideas for a shoebox and the appropriate downloadable labels for each box.

Kelly who lives in Peyia is in her late 60s and no stranger to ideas such as these. She has a vast amount of volunteering experience gleaned in the UK and has helped send similar boxes to needy children in the Ukraine and Bosnia in the past.

As well as filling shoeboxes, people are also needed to knit blankets and sweaters. Quilters are being invited to join in as well.

“We focus on seasonal activities to try and make a difference to those in need at difficult times of the year,” Kelly said. “Emma and I believe that when we pull together as a community we can bring joy back in to people’s lives, especially when they’ve fallen upon hard times.”

Contact Jenny Kelly 97 629085 or Emma Yianni 99 182230 or visit

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