Christmas shoeboxes provide warm welcome

Gift of giving: Sue Campbell-Ross and Jackie Mayers with Alana Willingham and Annabelle Baddock.

Gift of giving: Sue Campbell-Ross and Jackie Mayers with Alana Willingham and Annabelle Baddock.

A youth initiated project in its second year, is giving a warm Blue Mountains welcome to children and young people seeking refuge and asylum in Australia.

The Youth Shoebox Project stems from an idea of two Winmalee High students, Alana Willingham and Annabelle Baddock.

Last year was an overwhelming success, with more than 220 shoeboxes collected, sorted and distributed to children throughout western Sydney.

Each shoebox contains something to love, something to play with, something for school, something for personal hygiene and other age-suitable goodies.

The project was facilitated and supported by the Mountains Youth Service (MYST) and the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and with more schools involved this year, they’re hoping for even more shoeboxes.

"People in the youth community don't have many chances to make a difference. This is a good opportunity to make a difference," said Miss Baddock.

"Doing this makes me happy," said Miss Willingham. 

Jackie Mayers from the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group agreed.

"I've found it doesn't take much to make a difference. It's something anyone can do," she said.

“Children arrive with less than the contents of the shoebox. It’s not about possessions, it’s about that someone thought of them,” Ms Mayers said.

A shoebox can have a powerful impact on young people trying to rebuild their lives and settle into a new future in Australia.

This 'gift of giving' is not just about the contents of the shoebox - it's in the gesture, the generous intent and the message from young people in our Blue Mountains community, she said.

The recipients of the shoeboxes range in age from babies to 18 year olds and some boxes were for expectant mums.

Last year the most valued item in the boxes proved to be the personal note of welcome, or card from the young person making the box. 

"This is a positive, generous and uplifting project," said Sue Campbell-Ross from MYST.

"We encourage anyone who wants to be involved to look at and like our Facebook page 'Youth Shoebox Project' for fuller information, collection points and updates," she said.

You can also view the 'How to make a Shoebox' video prepared by Alana and Annabelle, there. 

Shoeboxes can be dropped off by 10am at Springwood High School on December 8 and Katoomba High School on December 9.

Shoeboxes can be dropped off at any time during office hours at several youth centre locations.

Fill your shoebox with goodies and drop it off at the Springwood MYST office in Manners Park, 183 Macquarie Street in Springwood or Springwood Youth Centre, 59 Springwood Avenue in Springwood, or Katoomba Youth Centre, 31 Waratah Street in Katoomba.

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