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John has a ball helping deliver gifts to orphans; McAreavey's mercy mission to Belarus.

Byline: LINDA MCGRORY

JOHN McAreavey has described the "challenging" conditions of orphans in Belarus as he distributed gifts to disadvantaged kids.

The widower of murdered Michaela Harte McAreavey, travelled to the former Soviet state on Thursday as a volunteer with Team Hope Ireland and its Christmas Shoebox Appeal.

The former inter-county footballer, 39, presented the youngsters with the shoeboxes packed with clothes, toys and toiletries donated by Irish families.

Among the children he met was Vlad with whom he had a kick-about in the snow-covered grounds.

John tweeted: "Nothing can beat a simple football for a gift. Vlad an orphan from Belarus showcasing his skills with me during our @TeamHopeIreland trip."

He described the orphanages he saw as "challenging yet inspiring" environments.

John promoted the shoebox appeal through the Michaela Foundation, a charity he co-founded in memory of his late first wife who was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011.

The Co Down man remarried in 2016, with Kildare-born wife and fellow accountant Tara.

She joined in the latest "simple and effective" shoebox appeal to help disadvantaged youngsters.

news@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

JOY Girls can't wait to open their presents

CLAUS FOR CELEBRATION Little girl opens her shoebox

GIFTS Presents were by Team Hope Ireland

common goals John McAreavey & Vlad at Belarus orphanage

HEAD BOYS John and Vlad

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EXBE
Date:Jan 29, 2018
Words:221
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