Shoebox sorting at Ballylaggan: Robert says: ‘Pack it like you were giving it to your own grandchild’

Pack a shoebox like you were giving it to your own grandchild

Coleraine farmer Robert McCahon has been a Blythswood supporter since 2007 when he first visited Romania as part of the Go Relief team, a group of volunteers from the Reformed Presbyterian Church who undertake building work. He has worked on various projects in Eastern Europe almost every year since then, including Blythswood’s Daniel Centre near Cluj, and the Elpis building in Dej.

The renovation of a Baptist church in Serbia is one that sticks in his mind. “The pastor there had been praying for many years that someone would come and fix it. It’s things like that which keep you going.”

Another memory which keeps Robert motivated is of distributing shoeboxes in Serbia with Alan Swanson. Having seen first-hand the poverty there, he is motivated to promote the Shoe Box Appeal and to support the two-week-long sorting process hosted by the church at Ballylaggan. “I always say to people here, make the shoeboxes as good as you can make them,” he says. “Pack it like you were giving it to your own grandchild.

“This year we had a breakfast at the church to raise money for shoebox fillers. Three hundred attended and we raised £3,000. We hope to sort at least 5,000 boxes this year. One year we even did 10,000.”

Having seen for himself how Blythswood operates both in Eastern Europe and here in the UK, Robert is confident to commend the organisation to others. “Lots of charities will take your stuff but you don’t know how it’s used at the end of the day,” he says. “Blythswood is different.”