Around two-thousand shoeboxes filled with New Year’s gifts are on their way from London to Yerevan, where they will be distributed by the NGO “Future is Now” to children of families displaced by the Artsakh War.
An appeal was launched one month ago, and word spread quickly within the UK and all across Europe, engaging both non-Armenians and Armenians alike.
With the help of 39 volunteers working over two weekends at St. Sarkis Church in Kensington, the boxes were collected, grouped by age and gender, security checked, itemized and packaged to be placed in transit to Yerevan via Brussels.
The appeal was the initiative of Victoria Lazzari, 32, who together with her Armenian boyfriend Yuri Khodjamirian, 35, visited Artsakh last year.
“The idea came from my mother who reminded me how as a family we used to send boxes via our school around Christmas time to children affected by war,” said Lazzari. “I felt compelled to bring a little joy and hope to this devastating tragedy that has displaced thousands of families. Sending a shoebox creates a connection between the donor and recipient that donating money alone does not. It also gives the receiving child a sense that someone far away made a great effort to show that they care.”
These shoeboxes are not just gifts, but rather a personal connection between people living in the UK to children far away in Armenia. One of those dropping a shoebox was Tatevik. She herself received one such shoebox 30 years ago and shared the effect it had on her. People enclosed cards containing hopeful messages and photos of themselves. Many had never heard of Artsakh or Armenia prior to taking the time to make a shoebox.