The residents of a care home were waiting for us. The were all lined up in the corridor as we arrived and were wearing masks which most of them ignored and kept taking off. They sang to us and Otto told them the story of Christmas and how it involved lots of strangers from the UK sending them gifts of love in the form of shoeboxes. One lady cried because she had found a pair of glittery socks in her box and she was so grateful. Another lady fell in love with the little furry black and white cat that she found in her box, so you can never tell what people will like from the gifts they are given.
We briefly visited the HOPE group which is made up of adults with disabilities and helpers. This would have been an impossible group to imagine not so long back where people with disabilities are valued rather than being hidden away and shameful. They were rehearsing their nativity play and being given shoeboxes the following week at their Christmas party so we left and went to our last stop which was a school.
This particular school was a Hungarian one and was full of children from very poor and marginalized familes. There were together in an after school club and we had to put the shoeboxes in the window to get them into the classroom. Although they were wearing good clothes, as we have know from past visits, they go home to poor housing and change into their old clothes to wear the good set to school the next day. As the light was fading we came to the end of our shoebox trip for another year.