Messages of welcome and gifts of love spread out across Sydney

The Youth Shoebox Project has just completed its 5 year and delivered a record breaking 407 shoeboxes of gifts and messages of welcome to refugees and those seeking asylum across western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

The Youth Shoebox Project stems from an idea of two Winmalee High students – Annabelle Baddock and Alana Willingham – and has grown into a Blue Mountains Christmas tradition with Jackie Mayers from Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and Sue Campbell-Ross from disability service, Able2, keeping it going and thriving.

Each shoebox contains something to love, something to play with, something for school, something for personal hygiene and other age-suitable goodies. The project is facilitated and supported by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and local youth disability service, Able2.

Jackie Mayers from the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group said: “I’ve found it doesn’t take much to make a difference. It’s something anyone can do”.

Ms Mayers said refugee children arrive with less than the contents of the shoebox.

A shoebox can have a powerful impact on young people trying to rebuild their lives and settle into a new future in Australia.This gift of giving is not just about the contents of the shoebox – it’s in the gesture, the generous intent and the message from young people in our Blue Mountains community.

“It’s not about possessions, it’s about that someone thought of them.”

The recipients of the shoeboxes range in age from babies to 18-year-olds and some boxes were for expectant mums. Last year the most valued item in the boxes proved to be the personal note of welcome, or card from the young person making the box.

“This is a positive, generous and uplifting project,” said Sue Campbell-Ross.

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