Volunteers are desperately needed to help pack a “mountain” of warm clothes, blankets and supplies heading from Leeds to refugees living in the mountains of Northern Iraq.
The Leeds2Iraq appeal has been co-ordinated by Lydia Mitton and her husband Chris, curate at St Luke’s Church in Holbeck, which is now piled high with aid donated by generous people across the city.
Mrs Mitton, who has a background in international development, was inspired by national charity Samara’s Aid Appeal, which is collecting supplies to help the 3.2 million people who have been displaced in northern Iraq since January 2014.
In January, 7.5 tonnes of aid were collected and sent to Iraq, but with winter once again setting in, and millions of people needing help, the appeal began collecting again last month and looks set to double January’s efforts. Now, with just days to sort and re-pack thousands of bags full of warm clothes, shoes, blankets and toiletries, Leeds2Iraq is desperately in need of more volunteers and funds in its final push.
Mrs Mitton, 34, of Beeston, said: “It’s been really hard work but we’ve been shocked at how people can’t get enough of it and want to do more. Every night I’ll say it’s time to lock up, and people will shout ‘let’s just do one more hour’. We’ve even had local musicians come along to play to keep people entertained while they work.”
The appeal is also still collecting donations, and have lists of specific items needed for care packs aimed at families, expectant mothers and babies.
Mrs Mitton’s husband, the Rev Chris Mitton said: “From primary school kids bringing their Ronaldo boots, to sixth formers mobilising their school, to churches, community groups, political groups – this has been an incredible community effort. It’s an act of love that is bringing life and dignity to people who have suffered unimaginable horrors.”
HOW TO HELP
Groups from across the city and beyond have been collecting, with all the aid being dropped off at St Luke’s ready to be sorted by an army of volunteers.
The shipment to Iraq is set to leave the city at the weekend, but Leeds2Iraq has been so successful they are hoping to raise £4,500 to send a second container to Syria.
Anyone who can donate cash or time to the appeal can get in touch via the group’s Facebook page, search leeds2iraqappeal. Details of items needed in care packs can also be found there.