Ipswich: Charitable group edging closer to sending their 6,000th welfare box to troops in Afghanistan

WHEN Jayne Smith first started putting together welfare boxes for troops in Afghanistan, she had a modest aim of helping 50 servicemen and women.

But five years down the line, the former owner of Cottage Garden Florists, in Bramford Lane, is closing in on sending the 6,000th box to the war-torn country.

Mrs Smith, of Rayleigh Road, first started sending the boxes – which contain a range of goodies – from her shop in 2007.

She now works alongside four other people – Janet Watts, Mary Packham, Shirley Vivian and Les Spink – at St Thomas’ Church in Bramford Lane, every Wednesday.

And the dedicated team of volunteers have now sent around 5,950 boxes.

She said she was inspired to start the project by the vicar of St Thomas’ Church, Father Paul Bourner.

“Father Paul said he wasn’t going to send Christmas cards and he was going to pack a box for a soldier and I thought we could do that,” she said.

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“Our goal was 50 but from then on we got so many letters from soldiers and we couldn’t stop sending them.”

Mrs Smith put together the boxes at her shop until 2009, when it closed down. The team have been working at the church since 2010.

Among the goods sent to troops include facial wipes, food and sweets.

Mrs Smith said she has been inspired by a number of heart-warming letters from the troops who have benefited from her kindness.

“I got a lovely handwritten letter from a regimental sergeant major and he was just saying that you don’t know what a difference you’re making by sending out a box to those boys – don’t underestimate what you’re doing and keep doing it.

“It’s amazing for them, it’s just like Christmas really.”

? If you would like to donate food or funds to the group, please call 01473 744469. Alterntaively take donations to Cast a Smile, in Bramford Lane.

? How are you showing your support for the armed forces? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to star letters@archant.co.uk

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