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Thanksgiving: How Team Hope is delivering smiles via gift-filled shoeboxes to underprivileged children

ThanksGiving #JoyToTheWorld

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated annually as a national holiday in the North American continent on the fourth Thursday of November. The day is meant to celebrate the harvest season and other blessings of the year gone by.

We got into a discussion with Peter Heaney, CEO, Team Hope.

Team Hope is an Irish, Christian, and child-focused international development organisation. Founded in 2010, they work in Africa and Eastern Europe to help children affected by poverty or marginalisation.

Could you please tell us about your charity and how it operates?

Peter – We’re an Irish-based non-profit, and we also work in countries across Eastern Europe and Africa. We work entirely through grassroots partners who are involved in their local communities and making a difference there.

In Eastern Europe and Africa, people receive a gift-filled shoebox. We ask people to put in things we call the four W’s, i.e., something to wash with like soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, washcloths. Something to wear like nice clothes, hats, socks, and something to write with like notebooks, pens, and pencils which children in school’s use.

And something which makes them feel Wow. It can be anything like toys, sweets, cuddly teddy bears, balls, all that kind of stuff. And that gets delivered by our local partners in the country to children affected by poverty or marginalisation.

The other aspect of our work is that we support ongoing development projects year-round. We focus on education, improving livelihoods for families living in poverty, improving access to water and sanitation.

What are some challenges that you might have faced especially in the light of the pandemic?

Peter – The pandemic affected everyone across the board for many of our partners. The biggest one is through the Christmas shoebox appeal, which is normally a hands-on event and involves a lot of volunteers coming together to make boxes, collect them and get them shipped out. But during the pandemic, we couldn’t do any in-person volunteering at all, as the entire country of Ireland was locked down. As a result, we had to move our shoebox appeal online for the first time, which was very challenging.

So instead of sending over already filled shoeboxes, we asked volunteers to source and make those shoeboxes locally with the funds they received. And we were delighted to send over 44,000 shoe boxes to them last year, which was amazing. And they were so appreciated, especially in countries where children themselves had been in lockdown.

It was a difficult year for everybody. However, we were fortunate to have fantastic supporters who continued to make an impact, even with all the restrictions.

What has been the biggest achievement of Team Hope so far?

Peter – The pandemic has receded somewhat due to the vaccination program. We’ve been able to return to our previous method of collecting shoeboxes filled with gifts. So our volunteers at the moment are busy sorting those and making sure those boxes reach the right people.

I am very proud to say that we’ll be able to deliver over 100,000 of those boxes. It’s a very major milestone for us, but I think I’m most proud of our volunteers and supporters who continued working for Team Hope even when things were not going in the right direction. They held up with their conviction and made sure every person in need got those gift boxes which might put a smile on their faces.

What should motivate the potential volunteers who would like to join Team Hope?

Peter – There are many ways in which people can contribute. We have people who have worked in a shoebox centre where all the boxes are brought.

We also have data entry roles for people who maybe be less keen on face-to-face volunteering. People can support it by sending a box online. If you’ve missed your chance this year, I will encourage everybody to go on and do that next time.

We’re particularly thankful to our regular donors and would encourage more people to donate towards our cause so that we can deliver thousands of smiles in the form of shoebox gifts. Also, there’s a volunteering page on our website as well. So I’d encourage everybody to check that out. There are ways to volunteer throughout the year.

Any last message for the listeners who would want to join Team Hope?

Peter – The thing that I would like to share most with people is the impact that it can potentially make by joining their efforts or donating with Team Hope. We’ll have over 100,000 of those boxes this year, which we feel was not possible without the support from our deterministic volunteers and regular donors.

I would encourage everybody to find some time to see if they can contribute a little bit of time or money to create a massive impact on the people’s lives who are not very privileged like the rest of us. We often hear that charity work doesn’t make a difference, or it’s just a drop in the ocean. But it’s so important, and it does make a huge difference. Every bit counts, and every penny goes a long way. So that’s the one thing that I would say to people that they can make a huge difference in someone’s life by taking a few easy actions.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Team Hope and Goodera

Goodera empowers nonprofits such as Team Hope through brand advocacy, fundraising, and long-term volunteers.

We hope that this interview helped you to really understand how Team Hope is delivering gift boxes to people in need to help them uplift their lives from extreme poverty and marginalisation.

We’d also like to thank all the nonprofit heroes in our own unique way. Here is our Nonprofit Starter Pack that nonprofit professionals can avail, with volunteers, networking, and marketing as next steps-

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