Team Hope Shoebox Appeal: what you should and shouldn't include in your box
This year's appeal is set to be the biggest yet.
For the past 10 years, Team Hope has been delivering shoeboxes containing clothes, gifts, and sweets to children in need across Africa and Eastern Europe.
The appeal encourages communities, workplaces, and schools to band together to send as many shoeboxes full of presents to children affected by poverty.
Each shoebox will be sent to boys and girls aged between two and 14-years-old just before Christmas, so if you want to get involved in the campaign, now is your chance.
The deadline for shoebox deliveries is November 8, but none of that matters unless you know exactly what you should and shouldn't be gifting in the boxes.
Her spoke to Team Hope CEO Peter Heaney ahead of next month's drop-off deadline to find out what can and cannot be include in the shoeboxes.
What you should include:
Team Hope always encourages people to consider the four Ws when choosing what to include in their shoebox. These are:
Write: something a child can write with or write on. This includes pens, pencils, copybooks, colouring books, felt tip pens, erasers, and sharpeners.
Wash: items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, combs, and bars of soap (wrapped).
Wear: hats, gloves, socks, underwear, sunglasses and T-shirts are all welcome as part of the campaign.
Wow: something the child will enjoy, like a toy car, a doll, a skipping rope, games, jigsaws, sweets (in date until April 2020), a small musical instrument, or an Irish-themed gift.
Heaney says that personalised gifts are also encouraged - and so is thinking outside of the box, if you will.
“We have a group of knitters who do a lovely delivery of cuddly crotchet animals every year," he says.
"So we’d encourage people to get personal with their items if they can, but also to consider all of the different ages and the groups that might get left behind."
Heaney says that often, boys in the aged 10-14 category tend to receive less boxes because people gravitate towards presents for younger girls - because they're easier to buy for.
He is encouraging people to build a box for this particular group if they can.
"Things like jigsaws, puzzles and games, these are things that boys would love," he says. "People tend to think they’re older than they are, but they’re still kids.”
What you shouldn't include:
There are a selection of items that shouldn't be included in a Team Hope Shoebox, including food with a use by date before April 2020, any liquids, and any toy that could be war-related.
Bubbles also should not packed in the shoeboxes because they can either burst or freeze in transit.
Heaney says that the boxes should never include anything that could be considered scary. This includes Halloween toys or costumes, toy guns, and toy snakes.
"A lot of the children we work with have experience of conflict, so while that may seem very far away to us, it’s real for them," he says.
"We wouldn't include any war related items or toys that have a military feel. There can be negative associations for the children and even for the parents."
You can find out more about Team Hope's Shoebox Appeal here.