Emily Bray, from Blandford Forum, has started a shoebox appeal for refugee children and families fleeing Ukraine. Since Sunday the 27th of February, it has taken off around the country.
Emily was inspired to start the appeal while spending time with her three-year-old.
“I was sitting at the kitchen table with my three-year-old and we were doing some colouring when I had this sudden thought about all these small children who have to flee their homes with nothing. The things we take for granted that we can do with our children have been ripped away from them.
“I really felt like I needed to do something which is why I set up this shoebox appeal. I thought I could ask people to pack really simple things like notebooks, colouring pencils, small toys, musical instruments, for children that have lost everything,” explained Emily.
By the end of the day on Sunday, Emily had received messages from people in New Castle, Devon, and Edinburgh, who wanted to be involved.
“I presumed it would just be people in my local town in Blandford Forum – I was absolutely blown away.
“Ed Broking LLP has funded us to get another van and for fuel, so we can drive more things out there. We have also received donations of pasta and tinned food so I am putting together family packs for people as well as shoeboxes for children. We are also collecting clothes as well so gloves, hats etc.”
In Salisbury, The Wood Bar have teamed up with Emily to be a drop-off point for the local area.
People can drop off their shoeboxes or donations to The Wood Bar at Parkwood Gym Monday-Friday between 8am-10pm or Saturday-Sunday 8am-7pm.
Alternatively, donations can be dropped off at The Wood Bar kiosk at Victoria Park Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm Sunday 10-4pm.
Tom Britten, one of the owners of The Wood Bar said, “We want to do our bit. We want to help out where we can, we can’t do much obviously, but if we can do something that is great. We have got a good connection with Blandford so we saw it as a good opportunity to help out.”
Emily and her father Nathan Bray will drive to the Polish border to drop off the donations. Jonathan Clark, from Ed Broking LLP, will also be accompanying Emily to help out.
To donate, all you need to do is fill up an old shoebox with the required items below and drop it off at either The Wood Bar Parkwood or The Wood Bar kiosk at Victoria Park.
“People have been asking me whether it can be second hand. I have said if it is something that you would be happy for your children to receive and play with, and it’s in good condition, then there is no reason why it can’t be second hand.”
All boxes must be with Emily by Saturday 12th March, as they leave for Poland on Monday 14th March. Follow their journey on Facebook here.