The weather has turned and stores are ramping up for the winter season. This means that Christmas and other winter holidays are only a few short months away. This also means that mailing times for your cards and parcels is even closer still.
Knowing these parcel times, it’s time to let you know about an annual Gift Box Appeal that local expatriate Tyrrian and a group of other volunteers organises every year.
In its 16th year, the team has been putting together gift boxes for children in Eastern Europe, children whose families (if they have a family) are living below the poverty line, i.e. on less than 250chf/month. Though these children may not celebrate “Christmas” per se, the gift boxes collected in our “season of giving” bring these children a small amount of pleasure and puts a smile on their face and a sparkle in their eyes every year.
The children, living on so little, often survive in terrible conditions, squalor, with little heating, limited water or electricity and very little food. Many of the children are without families, without parents, including:
- a little girl found aged 4 who could not speak but could bark! She had lived in the dog’s kennel uncared for and unwanted and so only uttered the language around her, that of her only comfort: the dog.
- a toddler who lived with the chickens, abandoned by her parents who couldn’t afford or perhaps even know how to care for her
These children have little or nothing and the gift boxes give them not only something material, but the knowledge that they are worth something, worth those boxes. These boxes cost us very little but to them it is something so very special!
The boxes don’t just reach orphans. They also reach those living in group homes, there not because their parents abandoned them or died, but because they were incapable of providing for their needs. The gift box appeal asks, “what does it cost us to make a box filled with necessities but also pleasurable treats sweets and toys for these children?”
As expatriates, internationals, in comparison our children have so much: they have a parties and we buy them things “just because”. Guests leave events with “goodie bags” and kids get Kindersurprise just for standing nicely in line at Migros. The toys, books and other gifts overwhelm them, so much so that we “hide” the items just to bring them out later. Oh if all children could have this luxury of “hidden toys”!
So this appeal is to readers of this blog and to members of our Parents Club. We are asking families to contribute, to make a gift box. But it’s a greater appeal, it’s an appeal to make a gift box with your children: a teaching moment where you can help your child learn and understand, not only that everyone isn’t as fortunate as them, but also that giving is important, and we should not expect something in return. And most importantly that just the act of offering a box, including maybe a toy that they once enjoyed, they will be bringing pleasure and joy to another child.
If you’d like to support this appeal, think now about setting time aside to sit down with your children to discuss. Go through the Gift Box Appeal website with your children, learn how to make a box and what to put inside, then have fun going shopping and also going through your homes to collect suitable items. Then sit together and put together your box. Cannot make a box, donate! If you’ve made a box or purchased a pre-made box that you’ve filled, between 10-19 November drop them off at one of the collection points. On 20 November 2013, the boxes will be shipped in order to reach Eastern European children by early December.