The Shoebox Project… My Favourite Time of the Year!

My favourite time of the year is the holiday season, mostly because I think that it is a warm and cozy time of year that rejuvenates all of us in some way or another. However, there are many people who might not have a support system or family of any sort there for them. I think that the number one most important aspect of the holidays is giving back and paying it forward, and The Shoebox Project is a fantastic way to do that. Women in need are often left in the shadows, and this is the perfect way to reach out and help!

The Shoebox Project

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Shoebox Project is for women who are in shelters- a shoebox filled with $50 worth of goods is given to a woman, because she may not have any money for herself and if she does, it may go to children or other family members. We have filled the boxes with toiletries and make up, mitts, hats, and socks, chocolates and candies, gift cards, bus tickets/tokens, thoughtful cards and hopeful messages. I often get a lot of the items I donate at the dollar store to make the most of the $50 (paired with the fact that a lot of it is brand name anyways). In the last few years, I’ve found that we often have too many things and can’t fit it all in!

Shoeboxes full of gifts to donate to women in shelters

At the holiday times, there are groups that make sure that children have toys, but adults are often in the background and not recognised. This is a straightforward and thoughtful way to help women in need know that there are people who might not know about them but still care for them, and give them items that they may truly need. I like to do this with a group of friends and family, as a bigger group of people can usually gather at least a box per person, sometimes even more. We watch a Christmas movie, wear Christmas sweaters, and embrace the whole she-bang! (I like to think that the good vibes are in the boxes and get sent along with the other gifts.)


If you visit The Shoebox Project’s website, you will find a list of what they recommend that you include in a box and what is specifically prohibited. They will also list the dates that boxes must be submitted by, and where you can drop them off in your city. My tips for a seamless process and wonderful box?

1) Have a chat or email chain going to stay organised on who will be bringing what- you don’t need 4 pairs of fluffy socks for one box, or 3 bottles of shampoo and no toothbrush or deodorant! We always try to balance between $20 of bus tickets/gift cards and $30 of things to make a full box that is also useful, but it takes planning to get there!

2) Let people know as early as possible! If people don’t want to drop the full amount all at once, they can pick up a few things when they happen to be out and shopping to spread it over paycheques. It also means that people will set aside the time to actually assemble the boxes!

3) Don’t wrap the box closed!!! The organisers go through each box to ensure that there isn’t anything included that shouldn’t be, and that boxes are of equal value. (Creating a box worth $120 just means that it will spread throughout other boxes so that everyone who receives a box will receive the same amount.) You can usually buy Christmas boxes that are the right size at the dollar store that make that whole part a lot easier!

4) Remember to include “fun” things- while women in shelters very well may need toiletries and make up (for when they interview for jobs/living spaces/anything important), it’s also crucial to include a few things that are just for fun. Chocolates, candies, and spa type items are all perfect to remind them that the world loves them even though it might not seem like it.

How do you give back in the holidays? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian!
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47 thoughts on “The Shoebox Project… My Favourite Time of the Year!

  1. Hannah November 8, 2017 / 2:00 am

    We used to do this with my church when I was younger – it’s a brilliant idea. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • anhistorianabouttown November 8, 2017 / 10:05 am

      What unique or different items would you put in? I’m trying to be creative this year!


      • Hannah November 8, 2017 / 10:29 am

        I can’t think of anything right now, but I’ll let you know if I come up with anything!

        Liked by 1 person

    • mKhae November 11, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      I once watched an online documentary talking about how much harder it is to be a woman that’s homeless and it really struck me. It basically spoke about how hard it is dealing with a menstrual cycle when you’re homeless because it’s so difficult to find tampons, pads, etc. Women often rolled up toilet paper or cloth and reused it on a day to day basis, washing it if and when they could get to running water to clean it with. It’s really awful that this is even a problem for women in this day and age. I would definitely add some feminine care products to these shoe boxes, what a wonderful idea this is!


      • anhistorianabouttown November 11, 2017 / 8:20 am

        We usually try and add in a few pads and tampons to help!! We also do a pad and tampon drive 2-3 times a year to donate to women’s shelters- every time they are on sale, I grab an extra box. With everything else they have to deal with, having a sanitary way to manage menstruation shouldn’t be another worry, and it’s an incredibly easy thing for the rest of us to donate!! There are so many things that we don’t think of that could make SUCH a difference. Thank you for stopping by!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. amindfultravellerblog November 8, 2017 / 2:25 am

    We have a project similar to this, called the “handbag” project. All for a great cause! Xx


    • anhistorianabouttown November 8, 2017 / 10:05 am

      Oh, that’s so cool!! I love that idea! Women aren’t often thought of as much, and when you are trying to get back on your feet, having things like a handbag and makeup and toiletries can make such a difference!!


  3. tahenryauthoress November 8, 2017 / 8:55 am

    My co-op does something similar. We adopt through a local charity, 3 families every year and provide toys for the kids, gift cards for the adults, and a full Christmas dinner. It a great way to help because it’s so flexible. If a member is feeling strapped themselves they throw in a few dollars which gets rolled up into the over all.


    • anhistorianabouttown November 8, 2017 / 10:06 am

      I love doing things like this in a group- it usually allows everyone to give what they can, even if it’s time and skills to get everything packaged! We have the hamper option here too, but it’s only for food and toys for kids, nothing for adults 😓

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kerry LifeandLoves November 8, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    Ohhh I love this so much! We have the same projects running in the Uk, and it does so much good. I tend to use shops that do the 3 for 2 offers, and the free item can go into the box. Its a great way to help others. Great post x


    • anhistorianabouttown November 10, 2017 / 10:52 am

      That’s exactly what I do!! I also get free items from Shoppers (like Boots) and I try to set them aside to donate- someone in need can certainly use them more than I could!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Niall O'Donnell November 8, 2017 / 4:17 pm

    What a great idea: not just to remember those who could use support at Christmas, but especially those we don’t always notice.


    • anhistorianabouttown November 10, 2017 / 6:31 am

      Exactly!! Some people are less “visible” but they still need kind thoughts and support at what can be a very difficult time of year!


  6. The Emma Edit November 8, 2017 / 8:13 pm

    Good on you for putting together a shoebox for the appeal, very kind of you 🙂. In the UK, Samaritans Purse run a shoebox appeal for children, my sister has done one for this year 🙂


    • anhistorianabouttown November 10, 2017 / 10:53 am

      Thank you, Emma! A lot of churches here also organise them for children, I’m sure someone will really enjoy her box!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. englishwithkirsty November 9, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    I think this is such a wonderful idea.
    There is an animal charity near us that has an Amazon wishlist. I usually donate something to help them – I do it anyway, but I make a point of doing it around Christmas time.


  8. Sosi's Mom November 10, 2017 / 6:43 pm

    This is a great way to spread some holiday cheer!


  9. ICanHazAdulting November 11, 2017 / 10:06 am

    This is great, thank you for sharing! Every year I try to volunteer but with the holidays and traveling, it just never seems to work out. This seems like a fantastic way to be able to give and make a difference, but work around my crazy schedule!


    • anhistorianabouttown November 11, 2017 / 6:45 pm

      The holiday season is so crazy, so this is perfect!! Also, I find that volunteering at the holidays can be tough because so many people have “standing appointments” to volunteer at that time every year- there is no limit on the number of shoeboxes! If they have more than needed in the city, they will send them outside to smaller towns to women there 🙂


  10. fancypaperblog November 11, 2017 / 10:09 am

    It is a lovely idea abd we do something similar here for children. It is good for kids to know that not all kids will have an equal Christmas


    • anhistorianabouttown November 11, 2017 / 6:43 pm

      It’s certainly important to learn from a young age that there are people in need who can use your support and good thoughts!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Carol November 11, 2017 / 10:20 am

    What a lovely idea…. When I lived in the Uk we did something similar for the homeless..gloves, socks,a scarf and things like that and chocolate and an orange…It is well for us to remember those not so fortunate as us. A lovely post 🙂


    • anhistorianabouttown November 11, 2017 / 6:41 pm

      Thank you, Carol!! I love the idea of including more treats- usually we put in a few candy canes, but I’m going to seek out some more chocolates and candies!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carol November 11, 2017 / 6:47 pm

        Thank you but do you know what struck me most when we did this? Well two things 1 You don’t ask do you want one you just offer and 2. If someone had already been given a gift they would say and suggest try that box over there where old Jim is….And I learnt very quickly how much can be done with a few boxes and also the laws of the street..But heartbreaking at times and when my kids were old enough I took them so they could see the real world and how it could be for some 🙂


  12. Ritu November 11, 2017 / 10:23 am

    This is a wonderfully giving idea!


  13. Becca Barracuda November 11, 2017 / 11:28 am

    What an awesome project!! Embracing the holiday spirit, helping others, putting good out into the world– i love it! 🙂


    • anhistorianabouttown November 11, 2017 / 5:59 pm

      It’s so much fun, and it’s nice to know that you are making a difference in people who might not otherwise be noticed at the holidays!!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. hotmessmemoir November 11, 2017 / 6:00 pm

    Omg! I totally love this idea and want to do it! I’ve never heard of it so I’ll check it out!


  15. josypheen November 11, 2017 / 9:27 pm

    I did this quite a lot when I was younger, but it was always for Children, rather than ladies in need.
    The only thing is, I heard that some of the organisations that do this in the UK actually use the boxes as a tool to recruit young children into a fundamental christian sect. They would open all the boxes and add literature and bibles before they’d send them to the kids. When I found that out, it really put me off (mostly because they went through schools and never mentioned to our families that they would use our presents as an evangelical tool.)
    Hopefully the organisation you go with is less dodgy!


    • anhistorianabouttown November 11, 2017 / 10:40 pm

      Uhhhh, what?!?!?! That’s terrifying and so inappropriate!!! The Shoebox Project here isn’t connected to any religious group (I most likely wouldn’t be involved if it was, because I think that sort of thing preys on people)- I got involved because it’s so inclusive and open ☺ It is terrifying when you think about what groups will do to twist something that should be simple and purely to help out!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • josypheen November 12, 2017 / 1:12 am

        I know! It’s also a shame because I feel like I always have to check before I get involved in those kinds of projects now!


    • englishwithkirsty November 12, 2017 / 8:46 am

      That’s terrible, but I can believe that it happens. It misses the whole point about giving and expecting nothing in return 😦 Kind of deceitful too if people don’t know that their gifts are being used in that way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • anhistorianabouttown November 12, 2017 / 7:00 pm

        EXACTLY- I would be furious if that’s what my gifts were used for. People know where to look if they want to join a church or temple; this is NOT the time for proselytizing!


      • josypheen November 13, 2017 / 1:01 am

        I know! That is why I was so pissed off when I found out about it! 😦


  16. thebeasley November 12, 2017 / 4:23 pm

    Love, love, LOVE this idea & we do a similar thing over here. Am currently creating a bag of essential goods for homeless people who are “between” being homeless- not quite sleeping on the streets, but don’t have a home either. It has no religious affiliation either. Very commendable, Jessica. Will Stumble this post x


    • anhistorianabouttown November 12, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      That’s a wonderful idea, Hayley!! I’ve been gathering my work clothes that I’m no longer wearing to donate to a group that helps women prepare for interviews and jobs, but I’m going to try and gather a few on-the-go packs for people who have the basics but can still use a little help! I’d like to think that someone would do that for me if I was ever in that situation ☺

      Liked by 1 person

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