By filling up a simple shoe box with cuddly toys and games, Margaret Shaw has put a smile on the faces of underprivileged kids.
For the past 12 years the 62-year-old has helped poor children living overseas through Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.
Margaret, from Ripley Grove, Copnor, Portsmouth, fills up boxes with treats and everyday essentials before donating them to the charity’s Operation Christmas Child project.
Established in 1990, the project has reached out to over 80 million children from Bosnia, Ukraine, Haiti and Serbia.
Last year more than 500,000 people from across the country donated shoe boxes towards the worthy cause.
Margaret, who has been a registered volunteer for Samaritan’s Purse for the past four years, went the extra mile in her efforts last December.
She jetted off to Belarus to see how a shoe box changed a child’s life.
The five-day trip saw her visit a village outside the capital Minsk, where she handed out shoe boxes to schools and churches.
She also visited a sanatorium, a medical facility where young people were being treated for chest and sight difficulties.
Margaret said: ‘The experience made me realise how fortunate we are living in this country.
‘I was so moved and upset by the fact that these kids had literally nothing.
‘It was amazing to see how happy they were at some of things they had been given in a shoe box.
‘They were so grateful for basic things like a teddy bear and a small toy.
‘One girl had a compass in her shoe box, and she was delighted at that because it meant she could use it to do her school work.
‘When I came back, I found it very hard to talk about what I saw for a while. It was just too upsetting.
‘But now I’m able to get the message across to people that it’s so important to give to others who are less fortunate.’
As a volunteer, Margaret has given presentations about the cause at churches in the city and to children at Langstone Junior School, Milton Park Primary School and Priory School.
Now she is urging readers to help by filling up a shoe box or two.
Margaret said: ‘All people need to do is have a rummage around and see what you can put inside. You could put in pens, pencils and writing paper, or things like sweets, soap, toothpaste or a toothbrush.’
To donate in time for this year’s Christmas project, contact Margaret on (023) 9266 7742.