Team Hope Romania volunteer: "It was the first time this child had ever gotten anything for herself"
"It was brilliant for them, it was like their Christmas Day."
Sue Haywood got involved with Team Hope's Christmas Shoebox Appeal nearly four years ago, and she hasn't looked back since.
Since starting volunteering with the charity, she's been on distribution trips to deliver the boxes to children in need across Europe.
After a few years of working with Team Hope, she was asked to travel to Romania with the team. "I was so excited to be asked in the first place," she tells Her. "It was two weeks before Christmas and I wasn't prepared for it at all."
Sue knitted hats and sold them to her friends and family to make the money to fund her trip to Romania. She also knitted extra hats for the children who would be receiving the shoeboxes.
"It was really heartwarming to see the children and meet the ones who were going to be wearing my hats that I made," she says.
While she was over in Romania, Sue visited a few orphanages where the boxes were given to the children. "Some of them had younger children and others had a mix," she says. "When we went in they were singing songs for us because they were delighted to meet us.
"It was brilliant for them, it was like their Christmas Day when we arrived. It was so exciting for the little kids to be getting these boxes."
Sue says she took notes of everything they did from her leaving her home in Cork to landing in Romania to spending time with the children. She says it was important for her to write down things because "I never want to forget this."
Sue says that on one of the days, she and the team travelled to a rural village that was particularly poverty stricken.
"We went into this house and it was two rooms," she says. "The father was standing on the bed plastering the ceiling. There were 11 children living in these two rooms. The mother had died during childbirth.
"There was one little girl who was four years old and I gave her my box. You could see it was the first time this child had ever gotten anything for herself. I was opening it up with her and playing with the toys and I gave her the hat.
"At that moment, my thought was, I really don't know how lucky I am. We were brought up with things these children haven't been."
This year's Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal is still open to online donations. You can find out more here.