Some 5,717 boxes were checked and packed by a huge team of volunteers for Rotary Guernesiais and were then loaded into containers on Saturday by Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service’s Red Watch for Channel Seaways to take them to the UK.
Rotary Guernesiais shoebox appeal organiser Dr Hannah Laidlow said they were even expecting a few hundred more.
‘It’s fantastic, it means a lot to us that islanders’ generosity at such a difficult time has been extended to these children,’ she said.
‘To have the volunteers here all week as well has been great and it means that these children from orphanages and schools, who I visited last year with the boxes, can receive these essentials and toys. Many boxes even have hand-knitted items for them. It was very humbling to visit them and they really appreciate these boxes.’
It may be one of the only gifts these children get and this year especially, because of the coronavirus pandemic, many have recognised not just the importance of organising this for them, but also the kindness that islanders have shown in creating them.
The boxes are arranged in suitability for age ranges, from babies up to 15-year-olds.
Each box is checked to ensure it contains similar items, such as soap and toothpaste, educational tools including paper and pencils, and a piece of clothing such as gloves or a scarf, plus a toy.
Packed into around 500 larger boxes donated by Specsavers for transportation, the shoeboxes will now be heading to Romania, Albania, Montenegro and Moldova.
Muscle power came in the form of the crew from Fire & Rescue.
Crew commander Andy Gibson said they were always happy to assist.
‘We’ve been involved in this for several years now and it’s a great community initiative,’ he said.
‘We were planning on doing some physical training, but I think this is enough – we’ll probably socialise and eat cake when we’re done too.’
The shoeboxes filled two containers and there were an extra 48 cartons on pallets.
Guernsey supplies 10% of all the shoeboxes organised by UK Rotary organisations. This is as a result of many local businesses, schools and organisations getting involved.
The shoeboxes are due to arrive in Eastern Europe in early December, but this may be delayed as a result of Covid.