The kindness of complete strangers will result in a number of homeless, low-income and at-risk women in Nanaimo opening a decorated shoebox filled essential goodies this coming Christmas.
It’s all part of a North American-wide campaign called the Shoebox Project for Shelters, which collects donated gifts and distributes them to various women’s shelters and organizations across the United States and Canada, including the Haven Society and the Nanaimo Women’s Centre.Anne Taylor, executive director for the Haven Society said when the women open the shoeboxes at Christmas they feel loved, cared for and remembered by the community.
“It makes them feel visible,” she said. “It helps them to know that their community is with them.”
Individuals in Nanaimo can purchase new gifts such as blankets, gloves, a bottle of lotion, hand cream, small toiletries and drop them off in a large donation bin at Woodgrove Shopping Centre. The items will then be collected, placed into shoeboxes, wrapped and delivered to the Haven Society and the Nanaimo Women’s Centre.The Shoebox Project for Shelters first began in 2011 after a group of women in Ontario filled shoeboxes with various items and donated them to four shelters in Toronto. Today, the project has expanded to more than 130 communities across Canada and the United States.This will the second year that the Haven Society has participated in the project according to Taylor, who said she’s glad her organization is involved once again.“It’s a really meaningful program to us,” she said.
Taylor said buying basics is a struggle for many of the women who will receive the shoeboxes. She said in addition to the basics, people should also consider purchasing comfort or pampering items, such as lotion, hand cream, a small box of candles and even gift cards.
“Donate things of comfort and caring,” Taylor said. “Often the women we are working with won’t even be thinking about, because they are thinking about what their kids need or what they need to get through the next day.”
For more information about the project and how to donate, please visit www.shoeboxproject.com.