Welcome to my October blog.  The focus for the Link to Hope shoeboxes this month is sweets and chocolate.  This is the only ‘food’ that is allowed in the boxes and must be manufactured in the EU with a best before date of June 2021 or later.  I know some other schemes don’t allow sweets and there is debate about whether sending something unhealthy is wise, but this is a treat, it’s not something they are going to be consuming everyday for the next year. 

There are no restrictions on who the boxes are given to so I only purchase sweets that are vegetarian or vegan to ensure there is no gelatine in them which would make them unsuitable for some religions.  Even some hard mints contain gelatine.  In fact I generally only purchase sweets and chocolates which are vegan friendly – which is relatively easy for sweets but harder finding reasonably priced chocolate, but that’s my choice as I want to avoid any animals suffering and is keeping with my own ethics and beliefs, it’s not something stipulated by Link to Hope.  

Skittles are accidently vegan friendly so I usually buy the multi packs which contain 10 small packets – prices vary but currently for sale for £1.00 for a pack of 10 in Poundland and One Below, and also reduced to £1.00 in Asda and Sainsburys.  I divide the contents between several boxes.  It means I can add a few small packets per shoe box so either children might have a packet each or they may last a week or two!  They are also great to squeeze into small gaps. 

Morrisons have 150g packs of individually wrapped sweets which are great value – 35p for the mints and 40p for the clear fruit sweets, just check the best before dates are late enough.

Still in Morrisons their own brand Savers dark chocolate is good value at 40p though not currently showing on their website, and Sainsburys do one for 50p.

Other options are 3 packs of Bournville, or Fry’s peppermint, orange or raspberry cream, all available for £1.00 in Poundland, Morrisons, Asda.   Asda do small packs of Dairy Free Chocolate buttons for 39p and Tesco do similar for 40p.

I’m planning to put a packet of Foxes Glacier mints (purchased in Aldi a few months ago for 49p – 25p) and a bar of dark chocolate in each elderly box and possibly a couple of individual packets of skittles.  In the family boxes I’ll put some Dairy free chocolate buttons and possibly some Fry’s raspberry or orange creams, and several individual packets of skittles and possibly some mints or fruit sweets. 

Current shoe box bargains – Tesco have a pack of 2 rulers – one long and one short reduced from £1.00 to 25p per pack.  In the same range there is a sharpener and eraser capsule reduced to 25p.  They also have a double pack of playing cards for £1.00.  One Below have children’s hat and gloves sets for £1.00.   One Below also have a pack of 10 small plastic cars for £1.00, which I usually divide between several boxes.  If you are doing a number of boxes Wilko currently have a box of 51 diecast cars reduced to £15.00, it’s a bigger outlay but they work out at just under 30p each.   Aldi have a few packs of gardening gloves in their reduced section – 2 pairs for 49p.  Aldi also have packs of acrylic wool – 4 x 100g balls for £3.99, good value if you are knitting any knee blankets or to knit some hats, scarves or gloves, even if they are for next years boxes 😊 (depends on how quickly you knit and how much time you have.)  I’m currently stitching together some more knee blankets.  I’ve got a few colleagues around the country knitting squares/blocks for me and my hairdresser has got her mom in on the act knitting some blocks and her clients are donating wool 😊.   Just had a package through the post from the mom of one of my colleagues, her mom was knitting for me through lockdown – so many lovely people helping out – thank you all 😊

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