Blythswood Shoebox Appeal - Maryburgh Free Church Hall
Since 2001 people from Maryburgh/Conon, and their friends from the surrounding district, gather in Maryburgh Free Church hall each October-November to check and supplement shoeboxes of small gifts donated to Blythswood Care for the benefit of disadvantaged people in (mainly European) countries with fragile economies.
Customs regulations in such countries often ban certain items and so each shoebox must be checked to exclude these and then have items inserted which are regarded as “necessities”, such as toiletries and new, warm clothing, often referred to as “fillers”.
These “fillers” are acquired through the generosity of many throughout the year, collected by Blythswood and then delivered to the hall prior to commencement of the checking process. Indeed, since 2015, a group of volunteers from the Maryburgh district has continued to meet, fortnightly, in the hall, to knit garments which will help bring comfort in countries where winter temperatures can be less than zero. Other volunteers continue to seek out bargains throughout the year and produce these when the exercise begins each October.
The categories are: Man, Woman, Elderly Woman, Teen boy, Teen girl, Boy 8-12, Girl 8-12, Boy 3-7, Girl 3-7 and Baby. Those checking the boxes are joined by a team of men who pack individual boxes into large boxes, each showing the category and number within, and each day’s output is collected by Blythswood and, subsequently, transferred to the container lorries heading for a country. As the number participating in checking the shoeboxes can reach 25, you may imagine how hard – nevertheless cheerfully – these men work each day! Also, it is amazing what can be packed into the space of an average shoebox.
During October-November 2016 Maryburgh group achieved a personal record of 11,701 shoeboxes checked and filled! The 2016 Appeal allowed 121,474 boxes to be distributed.
For those who like facts – the first shoebox appeal in 1993 achieved 300 boxes and by 2016 Blythswood’s total had reached 2 million.