The Trussell Trust is best known for its network of food banks across the UK. Not many people know their work actually started in Bulgaria (one of the poorest countries in Europe) and that they still run projects there to help people living in poverty. One of these projects involves sending Christmas parcels to Bulgarians, such as orphans, refugees and housebound elderly. This video shows last year’s Christmas boxes being packed and delivered:
On Saturday I joined some other volunteers in a warehouse in Salisbury to help get the shoe boxes ready to be driven over to Bulgaria in a lorry. Volunteering to put stuff into boxes probably doesn’t sound that great, but it was actually brilliant fun and the day flew by.
Although the boxes had already been filled by churches, schools, community groups and so on, they still had to be checked (for banned items like alcohol, knives, medication) and labelled so that when they arrive in Bulgaria, it’s clear who the contents of the box are suitable for. There were shoe boxes for adult men, adult women, babies and children of various ages, including teenagers.
While the contents of the boxes were age and gender specific, they almost all included sweets and chocolate, warm clothing (eg. gloves, socks, hat), and toiletries (eg. toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sponge). It was lovely to see how much thought and effort people had put into making up their shoe boxes. There were lots done by children, who’d obviously gone through their toy collection and included anything they didn’t play with anymore! This was one of my favourite boxes as it was so lovingly decorated:
I was also touched by the handmade card below which I found in another box:
Once complete, the parcels were stacked inside larger cardboard boxes, so they could be loaded onto the truck. By the end of Saturday, after nearly two weeks of volunteers sorting out them out, approximately 8 500 Christmas boxes were ready to be taken to Bulgaria. This is pretty impressive in itself, but against the backdrop of the madness of Black Friday, it was reassuring to know how many people in my local area aren’t giving in to mindless spending, but have thought about those less fortunate than themselves this Christmas.