A FORMER recipient of a Christmas shoebox has spoken about how much the gifts mean to those in poverty-stricken countries.
Kameliya Petkova moved to Stratford three years ago and after hearing about an appeal to send shoeboxes to disadvantaged people n Romania, knew she had to help.
The 37-year-old grew up in Ruse, on the border of Bulgaria and Romania, and spent some time living in a children’s home when her parents divorced.
She said the day she and her friends received the shoeboxes full of gifts was the happiest for children in care.
Kameliya, who now works at NFU Mutual, said: “When I was six-years-old and my sister was 12 my parents got divorced. We were in a children’s home for a year, which looks after children without parents or those in difficult situations.
“We received Christmas boxes and it was the happiest day of the year. I remember opening my box – you cry and you laugh at the same time because somebody is thinking about you.
“In my box there was a teddy bear which became my best friend and I still keep it. I had a small box of cornflakes, but nobody knew what they were so we decided they were very expensive sweets and I kept them in my pocket.
“The girl who sent me my box had left a Christmas card with her address and I kept contact with her for a long time.”
Kameliya was delighted when she discovered one of her colleagues was organising a collection of shoeboxes to send to Romania.
Every year Malcolm McCulloch – who is also employed at the Stratford branch – works tirelessly with his wife Anne to collect the wrapped gifts and send them to those in need through Christian charity Amen Trust. On several occasions the pair have even gone to distribute the boxes, which Anne once again plans to do this Christmas.
While it is too late to donate a box this year – with some 370 shoeboxes making their way to Romania – the couple are asking anyone who would be interested in getting involved next year to contact them.
Email [email protected] or call 01789 294908 to find out more.
Visit www.amentrust.co.uk for more information about the charity.