A woman who donated a shoebox of gifts for the Drop Inn charity’s Christmas appeal has described her dismay when she saw one of the items - a doll - on sale in the Richhill shop.
The Portadown woman posted up the details of her experience on Facebook on Saturday, prompting a wave of responses and resulting in Drop Inn issuing an explanation and apology on its website.
The doll, dressed in an outfit knit and crocheted by the woman, was placed in the shoe box along with sweets, stationary and a colouring book and wrapped up for the appeal.
She said, “Yesterday I was in the Drop Inn charity shop in Richhill. I was there about a minute when I saw this wee doll on a shelf, I asked the lady in the shop where it came from, and she said that someone had left it in.
“I informed her that no one left it in, and that it was my doll, and it was wearing an outfit I knit and crocheted. I asked the manager to explain how an item that I donated to a needy child had ended up with a price tag in the Drop Inn.
“He said they open all the boxes and take certain things out, like prohibited items. He had no explanation as to why they had removed the doll.”
She added, “Thousands of people in Northern Ireland donate to the Drop Inn shoebox appeal, I really wanted to make them aware that certain items from their shoe box could end up for sale in the Drop Inn.
“A new home has been found for the doll. She will be going to a child right here in Northern Ireland whose family are living with severe hardship right now.”
On the Drop Inn charity’s Facebook page, an tab headed ‘Urgent Message’ makes the following statement.
“We understand the frustration and disappointment that this has caused to the person who donated the Christmas gift. We know that this should not have happened and have apologised to the lady concerned.
“It is not our practice to remove items from Christmas boxes and offer them for sale. The facts as we have been able to ascertain so far are as follows: The shoebox was donated into one of our shops last week. A vehicle was collecting stock from that shop to bring to our Richhill shop. The shoebox was loaded with that stock.
“On arrival in Richhill, a volunteer inadvertently opened the box, priced the doll and placed it out for sale, in the understanding that it was part of the consignment of stock. Again we recognise this should not have happened but it was a genuine mistake by the person concerned. We will be doing everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“The cutoff date for our shoebox appeal was November 18. We can guarantee that all shoeboxes we received prior to that date will be in the hands of children this Christmas.
“It is impossible for us to deliver to foreign countries after this cutoff date. Next year our shops will be made aware of this and they will suggest that any donations after that date be donated to another charity who can use it in time for Christmas.
“Thanks again to everyone who helped make it possible to deliver a Christmas present to over 7000 children this Christmas and thanks for your understanding in this matter.”