Shoebox appeal: ‘Help us reward the rescues’

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Caring mother and son team Debbie and Tyler have set up a group to help give four-legged friends a helping hand this festive season.

Debbie Jordan, 28, set up Rewards for Rescues last month – a shoebox appeal for rescued animals awaiting new homes.

The appeal was the brainchild of her thoughtful son Tyler Heath, nine.

Debbie, of South Wingfield, said: “A friend of mine was doing shoebox appeals for children in Africa.

“Tyler heard about this and asked if we could put together shoeboxes for homeless people in South Wingfield.

“I told him that whilst there will be people in the village and surrounding areas that are homeless, there is considerably less than in Africa.”

After much thought, the caring duo decided to focus their energy on a category that they felt many people overlook – animals.

Debbie then set up a Facebook group to get their idea off the ground – supervised by Tyler of course.

The mum-of-three said: “We spoke about it for a couple of weeks because I wanted to be sure he would actually see it through. He is very thoughtful, but at nine years old you assume that it could be a fad that he dismissed a week or so later.

“But he didn’t and I wanted to encourage him to do something selfless and charitable. So many kids these days are more interested in their iPhones and computers than the world around them and what is going on.”

The shoeboxes are designed for all types of pet. Cats and dogs are very popular but Debbie and Tyler also want to try and help and cater for others too such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hedgehogs.

They are hoping to fill boxes with food, treats, leads – used or new, blankets, newspapers, anti-bacterial wipes and spray, straw and toys.

The duo put together a list of local groups and organisations which dedicate their time to animal rescue. They will donate to: Sara’s Hogspital, Dora’s Guinea Pig Rescue, Bows Bunnies, Mansfield Wildlife Rescue and Barking Good Times.

Debbie added: “The RSPCA get a lot of help and it does amazing work, but I think it is important to try and support the smaller, relatively unknown groups and individuals that give up their time and money to try and help rescue animals.

“Everyone thinks about children and the elderly at Christmas time. Big charities like The Salvation Army and NSPCC can fund adverts for donations and volunteers, but many forget about animals and how they suffer too.

“We aren’t asking for big donations, every little helps. We just need simple and basic things that don’t cost a lot – it doesn’t need to be pricey.”

The page, which has been up and running for around three weeks, has already caused some interest. Donations including blankets, dog leads and some food have already been donated.

“I have been telling Tyler to give it time and be patient as the page hasn’t been up and running very long. I know people are busy and saving for Christmas this time of year, but every little helps and I believe we should encourage children to support the work of others.

“We are hoping to collect as much as possible in the run up to Christmas and all being well, between December 15 and 20, we will go and visit each rescue group with the shoeboxes full of treats.

“If we do not receive enough, we have discussed letting it rollover and organising a donation next year, to give people more time to donate. But Tyler is hoping we can do it as originally planned, it would make his Christmas.”

For more or to make a donation to the shoebox appeal, visit: www.facebook.com/rewardsforrescues.