VAN loads of aid are heading to Romania to give children living in extreme poverty home comforts.
Three vans filled with much-needed aid are making the 1,800-mile journey from County Durham after businesses rallied round to gather the resources.
Items including food, clothes, bedding and beds will be donated to schools, orphanages and hospitals in the town of Bacau during the annual aid trip, which is organised by the GMB union.
The union’s senior organiser Terry Scarr said: “We’ve been making these trips for more than 20 years now and we know what a difference it makes to the lives of these children.
“Bacau is in one of the poorest areas of Romania.
“The conditions can still be pretty appalling and there is a lack of some basic provision such as food and blankets.
“Thanks to the generosity of local people and businesses, we can help make life a bit easier for the orphans and the people who care for them.”
The consignment also includes toiletries and medical supplies including toothpaste, toothbrushes, nappies, paracetamol and antiseptic creams.
The food packages include non-perishable foods such as rice, pasta and corned beef – all of which have been donated by County Durham residents.
Winters in Romania can be very cold and members of local churches have knitted blankets, hats, gloves and jumpers which will be given to the orphans, with the donated items distributed by the charity Aid for Romanian Children.
Durham County Council, which supports the trip each year, has once again provided a truck which will be used to transport hospital beds, donated by St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in Durham.
In addition, the vehicle rental company Burnt Tree has also provided a van and East Durham Homes has donated £250 towards diesel for the trip.
In previous years, similar aid missions have taken place to Durham’s twin city Kostroma, in Russia, and Chernobyl in Ukraine.