A refugee action group is urging people to fill ‘boxes of hope’ for those living in fear.
Residents in Sunderland and South Tyneside are being asked to support a shoebox appeal being organised by Refugee Aid Network (RAN) to take items to those in need in Syria.
I have been there myself and know how hard it is for these peopleTaz Maqsood
Sunderland’s Taz Maqsood, a member of the charity group, has already been to the Syrian border on a mercy mission to distribute £10,000 in aid, which was raised by people in the North East.
The group helped cover medical costs, pay rent for widows facing eviction and school fees for their children, offered essential toiletries, handed out food packages and gifted toys and sweets to youngsters.
Taz, 37, took part in the trip with Monir Ahmed, 24, a community co-ordinator based at Sunderland International Bangladesh Centre in Hendon, Shah Lalon Amin, 36, a business development worker from South Shields and chairman of RAN, and Monju Meha, 29, from Newcastle.
Now, RAN UK, which has a warehouse in South Shields, is collecting shoeboxes full of items which will be shipped out to Syria later this year.
The boxes are coming to the North East from all over the country and Taz is urging the people of Sunderland and South Tyneside to join in the project.
Taz said: “We are going to be filling a shipping container with medical supplies, food, clothes and the shoeboxes to give to people.
“I have been there myself and know how hard it is for these people and how much the aid is really needed.”
People are urged to wrap a shoebox in gift paper - please no Christmas paper as this is a non-religious project - then decide on an age and gender for the gifts and write it on the side.
Items for the boxes can include things like, hats and gloves, toothbrush and paste, shampoo, hair brush, bobbles, soap, hand sanitiser, a friendly letter, baby clothes, pencils, crayons, colouring books, small toys and sweets.
Goods that should be avoided are chocolate, sharp items, military toys, tinned food, second hand items and all edible items should be suitable for vegetarians.
Anyone who wants more information about collection of boxes should visit RAN UK Shoe Box Appeal on Facebook, contact Christine Dorward on 0191 6707334, email firstname.lastname@example.org or the boxes can be dropped off with Taz at the Vodafone store in The Bridges, Sunderland.