'Every box counts' This year's Team Hope Shoebox Appeal is set to be the biggest yet
"Every box goes into the hands of a child..."
This year's Team Hope Shoebox Appeal is set to be the most successful yet, as the campaign pushes to hit its two million shoebox target.
The charity has been delivering shoeboxes containing gifts, toys, and necessities to children and communities in need since 2010 - and this year they hope to collect a record number of boxes in time for Christmas.
280,000 shoeboxes are expected to be filled with clothes, sweets, and cuddly toys by members of the public before the festive season begins. They will then be delivered to children affected by poverty across Africa and Eastern Europe.
Peter Heaney, CEO of Team Hope, says that the tenth anniversary of the Shoebox Appeal is a "big milestone" for the charity.
"We’re anticipating getting to two million shoeboxes this year, which will be the most we’ve ever received, so being able to achieve that will be great," he says.
"But the real thing we want to do is reach as many children as possible, because every box does count. Every box goes into the hands of a child and it’s that child who’s going to be receiving those gifts.”
Team Hope's first shoebox drive in 2010 sent almost 180,000 boxes to boys and girls affected by poverty around the world.
Ten years on and the charity has successfully delivered hundreds of thousands more boxes, edging Team Hope ever closer to the two million mark.
Heaney says that he is always astounded by the different varieties of people who get involved in the appeal each year.
Everyone from school children to business owners to members of the civil defence make their own boxes. Many of them also volunteer at checking centres when the time comes to send the gifts off.
"We’ve had one phenomenal lady who says she makes a box for every month of the year," he says.
"She used to do it with her father who passed away the previous year. He knew what it meant and he always said he would have loved to receive something like that when he was a boy.
"It’s those kind of stories that get you bowled over when you hear them, the commitment that people have is incredible and what it means to them is really special."
Today marks the official launch of Team Hope's 2019 campaign, supported by Irish Hockey world cup silver medallist Elena Tice.
Tice says that she remembers the excitement of bringing her own shoebox into school when she took part in the appeal as a child.
"There aren't many opportunities for children to feel a part of something bigger," she says.
"But as we stacked the shoeboxes up, you could sense that every box was going to make a big difference to another child and that they were going to be opened with a big smile."
The deadline for sending a Team Hope Shoebox is Friday, November 8.
Those who want to get involved can fill a shoebox with gifts, wrap it, and bring it to a designated drop point by the above date.
You can find out more about how to fill your box here.