A group of South West London mums has sent two pallets of clothes to be handed out to refugee children in Kos.
Mums Corinna Ilschner, Samantha Hunt, Claire McCauley and Karen Canty decided to take matters into their own hands and help the refugee children facing the cold winter in Europe as they flee from the Islamic State.
Corinna, 40, said: “I just couldn’t stand looking at the heart breaking images of the refugee children.”
The concerned mothers held a sorting day at the Salvation Army church hall in Deptford on Saturday, November 14, where they collected, sorted through and packed around 400 coats, 120 pairs of boots and shoes, 450 sets of hats and gloves and 360 pairs of socks, underwear and sleeping bags.
Samantha said: “At least some of the kids will be warm when they struggle through Europe this winter in the search of a new home.”
The donations have been sent to Kos Kindness, a registered charity set up by another group of volunteer mums.
Kos Kindness has been helping refugees arriving at the Greek island for the last two years, providing basic necessities.
Since the summer, hundreds of refugees have been arriving at the island every day with the charity helping as many as they can. They depend on local volunteers and donations from different parts of the world.
Claire has also made her local business in Deptford, the Hoy Kitchen, a drop-off place for donations.
She explained how they all got together one day over drinks and decided to take action. “We felt like we could barely watch the news anymore because it was breaking our hearts”, she said.
In addition to Hoy Kitchen, Deptford business Deli X has also contributed by collecting donations and logistics company DHL has contributed by shipping donations at cost price.
Claire said: “DHL has also been very generous, they now have my support for life.”
In addition to using Facebook as a means to get people’s attention, the South London mums had local newspapers publish their campaigning both online and in paper. They also hung up leaflets at local libraries, schools and stores.
Samantha said they´ve received a lot of help from friends and acquaintances, but that they also have reached more people than they thought, including many they have never met.
Samantha said: “Amongst a variety of different people, we have had old ladies coming in with huge loads of stuff, including their own knitting, saying they read about us in the newspaper.”
People outside of south London have made donations as well. Samantha explained that she has friends in Cardiff who wanted to contribute, which resulted in a whole carload of clothes. Claire also said that it seems like people are donating from all over, making it quite a widespread campaign.
“It is nice that we are all getting together”, she said.
According to the group’s Facebook page: “In a few weeks time, a large number of refugee kids will be trying on coats or shoes that were once used to keep children in south London warm.”
The Hoy Kitchen and the Deli X are still taking donations and the mums are hoping to send more items to Kos in January.
The group is urging anyone who is thinking of doing something similar to “just do it”.
It says the most efficient way to get started is to make a contact on the ground where you would like to send items to, and then make sure you know what they need.