Visitors to the Operation Cover-Up (OCU) display in Cambridge heard of the gratitude with which their gifts were received in impoverished parts of Eastern Europe.
Guest speaker Andie Davies from the Auckland-based Mission without Borders New Zealand said some of the communities receiving the knitted goods lived in homes with broken roofs and walls, where several children shared a single bed and parents often slept on earthen floors. Most of them battled bitter winter temperatures without any form of heating.
Thanking those who had contributed items on the OCU display, she said recipients across the six Eastern European countries were deeply grateful.
“When you give the gift of a blanket, you also give the gift of hope and love. That is something so many of these people have never had before. We [Mission without Borders] work with people who are often the ones within their society that no-one else has room for in their life. So, when they receive these goods, it is mind-blowing to them.”
The knitted blankets and clothes are distributed to needy communities and orphanages in Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania and Croatia. Also sent over are items such as toiletries, notebooks and pens.
Andie said Mission without Borders partnered with churches in the local areas where they worked. Such an arrangement meant communities were empowered to eventually help meet their own needs, and Mission without Borders was able to provide aid across a wider area.
Operation Cover-Up is thought to have contributed over 130,000 blankets, as well as items of clothing, since it started in New Zealand in 2000.
Items on the August 1 display at the Cambridge Baptist Church were packed away for shipping the following day.