I received [Shoeboxes] when I was homeless, penniless, and at my lowest. Not only was I living in a shelter, but so was my 14-year-old daughter. The struggle we faced together is something we will never forget... The card I received with my Shoebox was heartfelt and although it was written by a stranger, I could feel her genuine kindness.
Having been a woman who enjoyed pretty things, and having access to the little things, it was extremely hard for me to have to share clothing with my daughter… When I opened my box and I got ‘girlie’ things like nail polish, lipstick and accessories, I was so very grateful because I felt somewhat normal… My daughter still remembers the hand lotion and fluffy socks and mini gloves. She summed it up when she said ‘not many people we know will ever know what it's like to have nothing - not even a toothbrush.’
That first night in the shelter, sleeping on that bunk bed, I felt like I was back in residential school. It was an eerie feeling. I held my daughter and said ‘this is only a temporary baby, mommy will get us our own place and replace everything we lost.’ ... I did more than get my life back. I improved it by getting my graduate degree and returning to work as a reporter.
I'm still not done because I promised my baby I would give her a better life.
So I thank the anonymous ladies who packed a Shoebox and gave not only me, but also my daughter, that pick-me-up we both needed.
… I remember in the [Shoebox] that I got, I had a scarf, a couple of bath things, and makeup, all things that I hadn’t bought for myself -like makeup- in a really long time, and I thought, “my God, this is the kind of stuff that I love, and that really makes me feel good!”...This year, it was my turn to give back to someone going through what I once did, and I got to deliver the Shoeboxes and meet all the women who give back by supporting and volunteering at all these different agencies and places, who all had a similar story to mine.
It felt really nice to receive things from the project that weren’t just basic necessities. It felt like receiving actual gifts and I felt valued as an individual.
You have no idea how emotional it made me just knowing someone cares.
This year I have been so struck by the generosity of strangers. It made my Christmas. I can’t say thanks enough. I’m just really, really grateful.
We believe that kindness has no season, however we are most well-known for supporting women experiencing homelessness in communities across Canada through our flagship Holiday Season Shoebox Drive.
First, Local Chapter Coordinators partner with local shelters and community agencies who support women experiencing or at-risk-of-homelessness and assess their needs based on the type of service they provide and the number of clients they serve.
Then, through drop-off locations, gift drives and events, Local Coordinators collect your Shoeboxes, messages of support and in-kind donations. They inspect all Shoebox gifts received to ensure each Shoebox is as beautiful as its ultimate recipient. When needed, they top-up Shoeboxes with extra products or gift cards (which are purchased with monetary donations) to ensure everyone receives a gift similar in value and size.
Finally, they deliver the Shoeboxes to our partners for them to distribute to each one of their appreciative clients!
With the support of our generous donors, volunteers and corporate sponsors, The Shoebox Project has touched the lives of thousands of women impacted by homelessness each year.
We'd like to thank you all for your incredible support and for bringing communities together through empathy, kindness and compassion.
Shelters and community service agencies who provide service to women experiencing or at-risk-of homelessness. This includes, but is not limited to:
Shelters serving families; individuals who identify as women, 2-spirited, transgender or non-binary; seniors; youth; refugees; adults living with disabilities; pregnant and parenting youth; and more
Immigrant, refugee & newcomer welcome programs
Community health centres
Indigenous friendship centres
Food & clothing banks
Supportive & transitional housing programs
Homeless outreach services and drop-ins
Employment support services
Mental health and addiction service