Two agencies have embarked on charitable missions to support the thousands of refugees fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries.
Hays Travel homeworker Anna Howard, from Loughborough, last week started collecting donations of clothes and other essentials to help migrants in Kos.
Meanwhile, Twickenham-based Crusader Travel has launched a campaign to support CalAid, an agency distributing items in Calais.
Both agents were spurred into action after seeing distressing images in the media last week, including that of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose body was photographed washed up on a beach, after he and his family attempted to cross from Bodrum to Kos in a dinghy.
Howard has launched a crowdfunding page and hopes to raise £3,000 to send a lorry to Kos to deliver the supplies she has collected to charities Kos Kindness and Kos Solidarity.
“I’m just a travel agent who wants to make a difference,” she said.
“These refugees are part of our global community. I want to be able to give them encouragement and hope, to show them that the world has not forgotten them – that their search for a safe life can be a reality and that those who have died will not have died in vain.”
Within days of setting up the donation page and posting about her cause on Facebook, Howard was inundated with offers of supplies, from all over the country.
She hopes travel firms will donate money or fuel cards, or the use of a vehicle. She also said she would welcome help with flights to Kos to assist with distribution.
“I have been blown away by the kindness of strangers,” she said.
“In travel, we are at the end of the food chain. But wouldn’t it be lovely if one of the big firms could donate a vehicle for us to use.”
Shona Lyons, head of sales and marketing at family-run Crusader Travel, a member of the Travel Trade Association, first appealed for donations online two weeks ago.
She said she had been “staggered” by the support, and said the level of donations had left her staff struggling to work because of the volume of donation bags filling her shop – including more than 1,000 pairs of trainers and hundreds of tents.
“We have had people coming into the shop to donate clothing, toiletries and other goods every five to 10 minutes,” she said. “We’ve already delivered more than eight tonnes of donations to CalAid.
“I assumed we’d get people locally in Twickenham wanting to donate, but we’ve had people come from across southwest London. It’s been quite overwhelming.
“As a travel agent, I’d love to be able to charter a flight to get supplies to places such as Hungary, but it’s not within my means.”
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