An appeal to ensure that hundreds of children of needy families in Paphos will receive a gift bag of presents this Christmas is underway.
For the sixth year in a row, a ‘Gift of Love’ volunteers, which this year are led by Mikka Heaney, Dikla Smith and Soula Theodosiou, are collecting gifts for children of ages that are donated by members of the public.
In recent years, the presents were placed into shoe-boxes, and although it’s still called the ‘shoe box appeal’, this year for ease and presentation, they are preferably placed into gift bags.
“Many people would struggle with finding shoe-boxes and decorating them and it’s also easier for us to check the presents inside bags and they look lovely,” Smith told the Sunday Mail.
Around 600 children in the district of Paphos will receive the presents, and for many, these bags will be the only gifts they receive this Christmas.
“These children could be your neighbour, friend or child’s friend from school, many people have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives and what challenges they may be facing,” she said.
The children who receive the gifts are all from low- or no-income families who are part of a list provided by Paphos social services, she said.
“The adults are all earning six hundred euros or less a month,” she said.
Smith said that on such a tight budget, children often miss out on the “treats in life such as toys, chocolates and biscuits and that a gift of love provides a great vehicle to lift their spirits and bring some joy into their lives”.
In some cases, they won’t even have toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant or shampoo.
The gift bags will be stuffed with a selection of gifts around the value of €15-€20 each and for ages ranging from 0 to 18 years.
All sorts of new gifts are required including dolls, toys, colouring books, crayons, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, sleepwear, toiletries, baby wipes, empty feeding bottles, dummies, sweets, chocolate, biscuits, hot water bottles, deodorant, clothes, nail varnish, makeup, calculators, writing pads, pens, small games and jewellery.
Other suggestions and guidelines are available on the Gift of Love Facebook page.
“All of the items have to be brand new, in previous years, many people gave second-hand items, but these will be taken out of the bags. We also ask that nobody puts in any toy guns or knives.”
Smith said that the gift bags will be carefully checked by the volunteers ahead of them being handed over and don’t need to be wrapped, making it easier to check them.
Drop off points include: Peyia Medical Centre, Revival fashion store, Revolution hairdressers, Century Travel, Maraki market cafe, Rock FM and Baby Corner.
The gifts are distributed every December through various networks such as social welfare, schools and community boards.
“We want to thank the public for their continuing support and this appeal is a way that we can all help to make a child feel really special and joyful this Christmas,” she said.
Dikla Smith- 97789099 Mikka Heaney: 96 462558