By Bejay Browne
ORGANISERS of the Gift of Love – Solidarity appeal have exceeded their target this year. The appeal sees the public fill hundreds of shoeboxes with Christmas gifts and raise cash for needy children and their families in Paphos.
Dikla Smith, one of the organisers, told the Cyprus Mail: “We have been overwhelmed by the support for this year’s campaign and although we were concerned that we might not reach our target, we are so pleased to have surpassed it this year.”
The “Christmas Gift of Love – Solidarity She box appeal” has been organised by volunteers Mikka Heaney, Dikla Smith and Theodosia Christodoulou for a second year. It raises funds and collects gifts for children from underprivileged families which are either registered with the social welfare or the charity organisation Solidarity Paphos.
Smith said that organisers had hoped to reach a target of 700 boxes and that 850 have already been collected. She said that they were helped by a fantastic team of volunteers, who sorted through and checked all of the boxes, before being handed out.
“We have also removed the perishable items from the 150 or so excess boxes and added them to others. The 150 boxes will now be stored by local company Peter Morton removals, ready to be re-allocated next year.”
Around 200 to 250 boxes were given out to children of needy families when they arrive at the Solidarity House on Christmas Eve to collect their food parcels, which will help them through the festive period, said Heaney.
“As well as the usual items such as, canned goods, pulses, rice and pasta, they will also be given fresh meat for Christmas,” she said.
Families in need of powdered baby milk and nappies would also receive supplies.
The volunteer added that the initiative has also given 220 boxes to Paphos municipality social welfare in order to help needy families on their list.
Heaney said that just this week, she discovered tens of families in the Paphos district who are below the poverty line and in desperate need of help. Around 60 boxes will be handed out to them.
“Many families with children at Polemi school are facing really hard times. These people are not eligible for any benefits or help from the government as they own land. But it’s very hard to sell it as its farming land in the villages.”
She added that they are trying to survive by growing fresh fruit and vegetables and keeping chickens and pigs.
“We have given out 60 or so boxes here. The children’s faces were priceless and really sweet. They were so surprised and happy and wanted to know who had done this wonderful thing for them.”
A further 90 boxes went to underprivileged children in Paphos whose families were not eligible for either the government or solidarity help, for a number of reasons.
Heaney said that the problem of low income or no income families is only worsening in the district with a further 20 families signing up for help in the last week alone.
“We are always in need of donations to help these people through very difficult times.”
Solidarity was set up in 2012 and helps all those in need, of any nationality or background.
Food donations can be dropped off throughout the year, either at Solidarity House in Paphos or other collection points listed on their website.
For further information call Dikla Smith on 97 789099, Mikka Heaney 96 462558,Theodosia Christodoulou 97 829504