Limerick shoeboxes bound for Romania

A GESTURE that, for many, captures the spirit of Christmas will culminate today when over 20 volunteers pack 6,000 gifts onto a truck bound for Romania as Limerick’s ‘Shoebox Appeal’ takes flight.

The Cleeves Riverside Quarter site, owned by Limerick Twenty Thirty, has been the sorting and distribution centre for this early but special slice of Christmas that will see individually packed gifts sent from Limerick people to children in the Eastern European country.

The finishing touches on the Limerick Christmas Shoebox Appeal – an initiative of the Team Hope charity – were placed this week ahead of the departure this evening of the precious consignment.

Some 6,000 boxes donated by families across Limerick have been brought to the sorting centre at the Cleeves Riverside Quarter site over recent weeks, with each box individually checked and made ready for the 3,500km road-trip to Romania over the coming days.

Said organiser Michael O’Connell: “This is a special initiative and something we have been running for a number of years. In September we made contact with schools looking for children to pack clothing, toys, etc. into shoeboxes for other less fortunate children, and the response is phenomenal.

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“This year our consignment is being sent to Romania, which has the highest rate of children at risk of poverty in the EU. We are amazed with the generosity of Limerick people again as this year, despite the challenges that schools have with Covid, we have received 6,000 boxes.”

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers who have been coming in here night after night this month to make sure that the boxes have suitable items and to add in other donations like GAA Cúl Camp jerseys and kitbags, as well as other items.

“It’s an incredible level of generosity from the schools, the schoolchildren, their families and also the volunteers. This year we had another challenge in that we were finding it difficult to get a sorting centre. Limerick Twenty Thirty came up trumps by volunteering the Cleeves Riverside Quarter site, which was ready made for this.”

A human chain will tonight see the boxes moved from the storage area into the truck, which will begin making the long journey to Romania from midnight and be an early Christmas gift for children in the south eastern European country.

David Conway, CEO, Limerick Twenty Thirty said: “The Shoebox Appeal is one of those initiatives that puts a smile on all our faces every Christmas. It’s a brilliant gesture that connects schoolchildren here with counterparts who are not so fortunate elsewhere in the world and we are delighted this year to have been able to support by making the Cleeves site available.”