MORE than 7,500 shoeboxes have been loaded up near Ilminster and packed off to Romania to help families desperately in need this Christmas.

The warehouse near Ilminster saw generous donations from people across the south west, from Cornwall to Bristol, but with Chard and Ilminster leading the way locally.

The Blythswood shoebox appeal’s South Somerset base is run by Ingrid and Peter Bloomfield.

The pair have been in charge of the area’s shoebox collection for the past five years, and are this year set to travel to Romania for the first time to see the people who benefit from South Somerset’s generosity.

Mrs Bloomfield said: “We packed up 7,500 boxes to be sent to Romania at the warehouse, mostly from local churches, schools and from a bit further afield.

“This month we will be going out to Brasov.

“It is a privilege to be going, but it will be emotional seeing all these people who are living in absolutely destitute conditions.

“Last year there was a lady of 75 and the shoebox was the first present she had in all her life. It is not just children we are helping, it is all age groups.”

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The collection is slightly down on last year’s effort, with the co-ordinators receiving less from the Bristol area than in 2016.

While in Romania, Peter and Ingrid are also hoping to visit a school in Cluj which is run by the charity Blythswood.

Mr Bloomfield said: “The charity help with the education of these kids, give them a meal and help them with their homework to give them a chance to get out of that situation.”

Some donations have included knitted hats and mittens, but the collection are short on scarves.

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Ingrid added: “Thank you to everybody for their support and donations and boxes.

“We have got lots of hats, but we could really do with more scarves, especially men’s.

“We would also love more coloured crayons and pencils. These kids are so animated, it is the only thing they get.”

To donate to Blythswood shoebox appeal, contact

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