Originally started by North West Rotary clubs in 1994, the Rotary Shoebox Scheme was then intended to provide children of Iasi, in north-east Romania with Christmas gifts. Since then, the scheme has become a national project supported not only by Rotary clubs but also by individuals, schools, companies, churches, Inner Wheel, Rotaract & Interact.
Each year around 50,000 Shoeboxes or gifts are sent to Romania, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia and Kosovo. Every Shoebox is guaranteed to go to a deserving child or family.
From October until the New Year, a team from the Rotary Club of Rochdale visits the Shoebox warehouse every fortnight or so, to sort the donated shoeboxes into the correct category. Individual boxes contain items for babies up to 12 months old and new mothers, toys for boys or girls up to age 12, items for teenagers up to 18 years old and household items for families and elderly people.
Each type of box is then loaded onto a pallet, wrapped up and made ready for loading on to the transport taking them to Europe.