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Shoeboxes of joy

Sophie Cosford from Wairarapa Shoebox Christmas, centre front, with the gifts donated by staff members from the Warehouse Masterton and Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER

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Eighty Wairarapa school children will receive a shoebox filled with Christmas gifts thanks to Featherston’s Sophie Cosford and the generosity of staff members of the Warehouse Masterton who dug into their own pockets.

When Cosford returned to Wairarapa two years ago after a decade of teaching in Wellington, she knew one thing she wanted to bring with her was Pera Barrett’s Shoebox Christmas initiative.

This prompted her to start up Wairarapa Shoebox Christmas – a project where businesses and community members can donate a shoebox full of gifts for a child in need.

“Having my own children, I thought about how incredibly heart-breaking it would be if you couldn’t provide for your kids at Christmas,” she said.

Cosford approached schools and organisations to identify children who would otherwise go without presents at Christmas and soon found out there was a real need in Wairarapa.

In some cases, entire classes were nominated to avoid singling children out.

Martinborough School is one of the lucky recipients on the list, with two of its classrooms receiving boxes next week, courtesy of the staff at The Warehouse Masterton, who bought toys themselves to fill 80 shoeboxes.

“These were filled by our staff members, it’s not a corporate gift,” said store manager Richard Hamilton.

“It meant taking the boxes home and thinking about what they wanted to put in them.”

Staff member Emily Farrell said the team did something every year to give something back to the community.

“It’s our community that supports our store, so we want to give back to the people in our community who need it most,” she said.

The Warehouse also came to the party with a trolley full of extra toys to donate.

Wairarapa-based Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty said he was happy to support Cosford in an area where there is so much need.

“When she moved back to Featherston she approached me and said ‘I want to get involved in the community’ so it doesn’t surprise me at all she’s got involved with this,” McAnulty said.

McAnulty lent his support and even filled a shoebox himself on Sunday before the boxes were handed over to Cosford to distribute.

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