World Jewish Relief is already looking to winter for its latest welfare initiative for Jews in Eastern Europe.
Mindful that 67 per cent of Jews in these countries live in unacceptable conditions and 37 per cent have to survive without adequate food, the welfare charity this week launched Operation Winter Survival.
The idea is that the scheme — part of WJR’s Gifts in Kind humanitarian aid programme — will bring in new or nearly new goods such as scarves, hats, gloves and footwear. New socks, unopened toiletries and spare toothbrushes are also urgently required. There is an early November deadline for collections.
The goal is to dispatch 15 huge trailers filled with the survival bags to the affected communities with the first going to Ukraine and Belarus next month.
A WJR spokesman pointed out that in the former Soviet Union, “temperatures can drop below minus-20 degrees and snow can be three feet deep. So an already dire situation can become life threatening.
“For many, heating, extra blankets and hot food are barely affordable. Thirty per cent of Jewish children do not have suitable footwear and 26 per cent do not have the appropriate clothing to protect them from the bitter climate.”
Added WJR chief executive Paul Anticoni: “We have launched Operation Winter Survival alongside our Rosh Hashanah appeal because money alone is not enough.
“It is appalling that mothers are reduced to using rags as nappies for their children and the elderly have to resort to blowing their noses on newspapers.
“An extra blanket for a young child could literally save a life — and many of us have more than one to spare.”
The charity hopes that schools, synagogues and community groups will get involved in the scheme. The collection bags can be tagged with a personal message and dropped off at its Neasden warehouse.
Laurence Ackerman, Spencer Davis, Monica Sawitz, Bonnie Brooks, Geoff Goodman, Sarah Brooks, Jackie Segal, Geoff Walters and Michelle Mervish are among WJR supporters in key Jewish areas who are offering garages or spare rooms as local drop-off points.
WJR points out that if everyone who fills a bag donates at least £5, transport costs will be covered.