ROTARIANS on the Isle of Wight hope to hit the 3,000 mark in this year’s shoebox appeal to help youngsters in Moldova.
The annual appeal brings a taste of happiness to deprived young people at Christmas time.
Last year, almost 3,000 boxes filled with gifts, such as toys, school equipment and clothing, were delivered to rural villages in Moldova, despite efforts being hampered by severe snow storms.
This year, the lorries will once again be heading to the former Soviet state where Rotarians Di Christopher and Chris Davis spent eight days in June last year and witnessed first hand the poor living conditions.
As a non-EU country, Mrs Christopher said Moldova received no outside support to bolster its economy and very little foreign aid.
Seventeen per cent of adults suffer from tuberculosis, leaving many children orphaned or left with relatives or even neighbours.
Mrs Christopher said: "Most of the population live in rural areas where the roads are very poor and there are few good communication routes.
"There is very little by way of basic commodities — we take for granted things like toothpaste and toilet paper — while there is no running water in most of the villages.
"There are few hospitals across the country and they are under resourced.
"Although it is a Christian country, there are very few people who celebrate Christmas; it’s just another cold, miserable day for the children.
"When the shoeboxes arrive, they are overwhelmed by it all. They are so grateful to receive these things. Our Rotarian colleagues in Moldova deal with the distribution and ensure all the boxes go to where they are needed."
The appeal will be officially launched tomorrow (Monday) and people have until Thursday, November 7, to deliver their shoeboxes to one of 18 collection stations across the Isle of Wight.
A leaflet listing items to include is available from each collection station and will be distributed to Island schools.