A charity initiative is collecting items that will be distributed to 10,000 workers in the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Oman.
Pupils gather daily necessities for 10,000 workers
ABU DHABI // As Pamela Alvarez fills a box with shaving cream, toothpaste, talcum powder and other gifts for a labourer she will never meet, the schoolgirl appreciates what she and her family have.
"I'm from Spain but was born in Mexico. I know poor people don't have money to buy these," says the 10-year-old pupil at Raha International School in Abu Dhabi. "I'm giving away stuff from my house because I've got enough to give to everyone."
Sadhika Laxman, also 10, who was born in Scotland and is from India, agrees. "We give people what they don't have," she says. "We should do this often so people get more stuff."
For the past week, Pamela and Sadhika are among students at Raha International School who have been collecting items for The Box Appeal, a charity initiative to collect and distribute daily necessities to 10,000 workers.
On Wednesday, campaign organisers visited the school at Khalifa City A. Pupils had filled 30 boxes with T-shirts, caps, towels, nail clippers, toothbrushes, razors, combs and other everyday items.
Erin Crook, 11, from Indonesia, says she and her mother bought shampoo, razors and soap at a grocery last Saturday.
"It's really nice and very helpful of us to donate these," she said. "We're happy to do this."
Seungha Shin, 12, brought bars of soap. "I'm just new to the country," says the South Korean pupil. "I think it's good to do this. I don't know where the boxes will go."
"They like the idea of the campaign," says their teacher Chris Coles, 27. "This could be good practice for them. By April/May, each student has to work on a big project. It could be the Box Appeal, the Palestinian children or saving the rainforest."
The school's boxes are among the 9,912 distributed so far as part of the campaign, which began on August 15 and concludes at the end of this month.
Klara Zakis, a public relations and communications manager with the Rezidor Hotel Group, says schools have been key to the success of the campaign.
"We've been really excited about the response we've had from schools this last week," she says. "The children are very keen to get involved and take part. They show pride in their box and we've found they are then the ones who go home and spread the word."
So far 4,931 boxes have been filled and returned. Organisers expect to receive the rest by the end of this month.
The initiative, which is run by Radisson Blu and Park Inn hotels in the Middle East in collaboration with the Red Crescent, is in its fifth year and has provided more than 20,000 boxes, worth a total of Dh2 million, over the past four years.
This year, the campaign has gone beyond the UAE, extending to Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.
Red Crescent will distribute the boxes to workers on September 23 and in the first week of October.
"We cannot thank the local communities, schools and companies enough for this incredible show of support," said Marko Hytonen, the area vice president of the Rezidor Hotel Group. "This last week we've been totting up the numbers and our target of helping 10,000 people looks very realistic.
The biggest donors
Royal Catering, Abu Dhabi 500 boxes
Jebel Ali Primary School 200 boxes
French International School 300 boxes
Wellington International School 500 boxes
Raffles International School (West & South Campus) 1,200 boxes
Boxes by Numbers
Abu Dhabi 1,200
Expected Boxes by end of September
Abu Dhabi 750