THE annual Rotary International Shoebox Appeal is being launched on the Isle of Wight next week.
This year, for the first time, the shoeboxes will be going to deprived children in Moldova, where living conditions are described as some of the worst in Europe.
Shoebox appeal co-ordinator Dianne Christopher, from Sandown Rotary Club, said: "I was able to visit Moldova earlier this year and was shocked by the conditions many children live in.
"There is an epidemic of TB and I met children who had lost one or both parents. Many are living in shacks with no running water and little protection from the elements.
"It will be wonderful to give these children a little happiness at Christmas."
For anybody wishing to fill a shoebox, there will be collection points around the Island, including the County Press office, Newport, Busy Bee Garden Centre, Ryde, IW Radio, Newport, Moreys in Newport and Sandown, Lake Post Office, Islandwide Carpets, Ryde, Beresford’s Barber Shop, Cowes, and Shorwell Post Office.
Other collection points are being arranged and will be confirmed soon.
Most of the Island’s primary schools will also be asking children to fill decorated shoeboxes with small gifts for the disadvantaged youngsters.
All completed shoeboxes must be handed in by Friday, October 26, before being checked and prepared for shipment to Moldova in time for Christmas.
• More information, leaflets and details of collection points can be obtained from Dianne on 01983 551894.