A bookstore in Beaminster has launched a campaign to raise £75,000 to help children displaced by war in Ukraine.
Little Toller Books are one of two independent UK publishers who have come together to provide backpacks containing a selection of books, headlamps, water bottles, notebooks, colored pencils and other essentials.
Gracie Cooper, who runs Little Toller Books in Beaminster, and Kevin Duffy, who runs Bluemoose Books, in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, are behind Packed with Hope – an initiative that aims to bring some comfort and escape to displaced children fleeing Ukraine. .
Ms Cooper said: “We just can’t step back and watch.
“My kids are constantly asking, ‘Could this happen to us?’
“The uprooting of families is heartbreaking, and we need to be able to help in some way.”
Coordinated from Little Toller’s offices and bookshop in Church Street, a JustGiving campaign had started raising £75,000 to support the purchase of items and the distribution of 10,000 filled backpacks from a warehouse in Dorset.
Little Toller Books and Bluemoose aim to provide at least 30,000 books and invite publishers, bookstores and authors to donate picture books and paperbacks for children of different ages.
All books must be accessible to children whose first language is not English.
Gracie Cooper is mobilizing a network of volunteers in Dorset to help find, sort, pack and distribute the bags.
She said: “In addition to books, we also need all sorts of other items, both for convenience and necessity, such as coloring books, notepads, headlamps, brushes toothbrushes, hairbrushes, puzzles, bead bags, insulated water bottles, warm hats, gloves and socks, pencil cases, stationery, hot water bottles.
“We also need backpacks for volunteers to pack and send overland to countries bordering Ukraine, such as Poland or Romania.”
The JustGiving campaign aims to raise funds to cover the basic costs of storage and transport, as well as items that are not donated so that each bag can be filled with useful and lovely things.
Ms Cooper added: “We know what we do is just the smallest gesture, but what if something in that bag puts a smile on someone’s face? What if a child If a six-year-old could fall asleep listening to a bedtime story? What if a thirteen-year-old could escape into a story? We’re sure our friends in the publishing world will have our backs.
Little Toller Books thanked the Poundbury Cancer Institute in Dorset for lending their warehouse to carry out the project.
To donate to the Packed with Hope campaign, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/packedwithhopecampaign