A kind-hearted schoolboy keen to help people affected by the worsening humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe has been baking and selling cakes to raise money for ShelterBox.
Eight-year-old Tom Sampson, who lives in Stroud with his family, wanted to help families having to leave their homes and decided to raise money for the West Country-based international disaster relief charity.
With operational headquarters in Cornwall, the charity provides shelter and other essential items to people all over the world who’ve lost their homes because of conflict or disaster.
ShelterBox currently has a team in Poland working with partners to support people in Ukraine as well as those who have fled the country.
Tom says: “I found out about the war in Ukraine and immediately wanted to help, so I started baking. I really love baking and I’ve always wanted to host a bake sale, so I did.
“I am very pleased about how my bake sale went. I still can’t believe we were baking for a day and a half straight.
“The chocolate brownies went first and sold out. I’m really chuffed with how much money I raised, and my teacher says if I tell the other teachers that next time I’ll raise twice as much for ShelterBox.”
The charity is sending mattresses to ‘collective centres’ like schools, churches and sports centres in western Ukraine. This will help people who have fled their homes in near-freezing temperatures to keep warm at night.
The most vulnerable people in conflicts are often those left behind, so ShelterBox is also preparing to provide shelter kits with tools and rope, high thermal blankets, soap, toothpaste, solar lights, and water carriers to help people survive in buildings damaged by the conflict.
Tom’s proud father, Andrew says: “Tom has always had a soft spot for displaced people. Whenever we see a homeless person on the street, we have to stop and give them some food or money.
“He’s been wanting to have a bake sale for a very long time, but the pandemic had curtailed his aspirations until now. What’s happening in Ukraine struck a chord with Tom and he was inspired. I’m really proud of his commitment and enthusiasm, his drive is amazing and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up!”
Tom baked scores of cakes, including vegan and gluten-free options, for school friends, neighbours and his Cubs group in Minchinhampton.
Andrew adds: “Tom’s got a fantastic imagination and with that comes lots of ideas about how he can make new things like cakes. As a Cub Scout he’s always thinking about others and how to help them.”
Head of Community Fundraising for ShelterBox, Lucy Holden says: “We rely heavily on public donations to provide emergency shelter to people all across the world who have lost their homes to disaster or conflict.
“As well as sending aid to people who have stayed in Ukraine or been displaced internally, ShelterBox will also be supporting refugees who have made the journey across Ukraine’s border with a neighbouring country. As the conflict continues, we expect the needs of people reaching the borders to increase. These people are likely to be on the move so we’ll be looking at essential items they can carry with them, like toothpaste, soap and warm winter coats.
“Thanks to people like Tom, wanting to make a difference, ShelterBox has been able to help more than two million people across the world since 2000.”
As well as ShelterBox’s response to the crisis in Ukraine, the charity is also working in the Philippines, Yemen, Syria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Haiti.
For more information about ShelterBox’s Ukraine fundraising appeal visit shelterbox.org. Any additional money raised will help ShelterBox provide emergency shelter to families affected by disaster around the world.