Naas shoebox appeal volunteer, Ailbhe Greene recounts her week at the sorting warehouse

Lending a hand

Ailbhe Greene

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Ailbhe Greene

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Naas shoebox appeal volunteer, Ailbhe Greene recounts her week at the sorting warehouse

Ailbhe Greene and Tayla Muir at the sorting centre at Naas Enterprise Park

Being a student in Transition Year at St Mary's in Naas has given me the unique opportunity to work and volunteer in a variety of places, getting me out of school, and out of my comfort zone.

A few weeks ago, three of my friends and I volunteered with Team Hope for their annual Shoebox Appeal. Team Hope is an Irish charity best known for collecting gift-filled shoeboxes from around the country and sending them to vulnerable children in poorer countries in Africa and Eastern Europe, some of whom have never received a present in their lives. They also help families who may be living on less than €1 a day through community work and development projects.

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Every year when the appeal comes around volunteers in locations around the country work tirelessly to ensure every shoebox is acceptable and suitable as a gift for a young child. My friends Caoimhe, Sarah, Tayla and I volunteered at the Newbridge depot run by Breda Healy.

We were kept busy as there were thousands of shoeboxes to sort through and hundreds more arrived every day. It was tiring work, but so rewarding when we thought of how happy the children would be when they received their Christmas shoeboxes. We carefully sorted through the wrapped shoeboxes to check every gift was in perfect condition and ensure nothing had been included that we couldn’t send to the children. Finally we sealed the shoebox with tape and rubber bands before placing it in a pile, ready to be sent off.

Volunteering with Team Hope was a really unique, rewarding experience and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to help them out. Knowing that I have in some way contributed to a great Christmas present for vulnerable and less fortunate children has been an incredible feeling, and I would encourage anyone to get involved next year, either by donating a Christmas shoebox yourself or volunteering to check the shoeboxes.