April 13, 2023
We're thrilled to announce the two student winners of our Creative Essay Writing Contest! We want to extend a big congratulations to Atharv from grade 4-6 and Kaylee from grade 7-8 for their passion, hard work, and dedication to writing.
The prompt for the essay was "Tell us about the most special gift you’ve ever received or given? How did it make you feel and what made it so meaningful?"
Keep scrolling down to view the essay submissions of our two winners!
Gifts are amazing, whether you are giving or receiving them. This is my take on the most special gift that I have ever given. But wait there's more to it! I ended up receiving an amazing gift as well!
Inspired by the Shoebox Project, during the Christmas season 2022, my family filled up a bag with basic supplies that are essential to survival.
The waterproof bag was good for storage and contained soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, a water bottle, non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, a thick jacket; an insulated blanket and a single person tent. Our hope was that it brought a ray of hope to a homeless person. We also put a card wishing them luck and happiness in the year ahead.
My parents, who did not grow up rich, immigrated to Canada and have always impressed on me the importance of kindness and humbleness. In fact my mom always mentions “in the current times the difference between homeless people and us is mostly that of a pay - cheque.” The gift we gave was meaningful for 2 reasons :
We were privileged enough to have a roof on our head and food of choice on the table. It was important for us to share that.
A part of the contribution came from my piggy bank. While we have always tried to pass on things that we do not use to someone who needs them, this was the first time I was contributing from my savings. The money in the piggy box was originally meant for a Lego set that I had wanted for a long time. But I was also excited to see what a meaningful gift will do for the receiver.
…And then karma comes along
I got lucky enough to watch the intricate web of karma within a short span of time. When we gave our bag of stuff - the look that the person gave us - I am never going to forget it. It sent shivers down my spine (in a good way) and I had that strange feeling of satisfaction almost like walking on a cloud every time I remembered his face. It was the first time I realized how true it is when people say “Giving gifts is as joyful as receiving them”
Over the holidays we had a friend visit us from another city and guess what did he bring over as a gift? Exactly the set I wanted. I had never mentioned wanting something so if it wasn’t magic then I do not know what else it was.
“Some gifts are big, others are small. The ones that come from the heart are the best of all”
To me, Chewie and Mimi are not just pets. They are much more than that. My dogs are integral members of my family who bring so much joy into my life making me feel truly loved and appreciated.
Chewie is a tiny Yorkshire Terrier with a beautiful golden brown coat and also brown eyes. We named him after Chewbacca from Star Wars because of his fluffy appearance and playful personality. My brother received him as a gift from my parents on his birthday, but Chewie quickly became a gift to all of us.
Chewie has boundless energy and loves nothing more than to run and play. He is always up for a game of fetch or a walk in the park. He is also incredibly loyal and protective, and I always feel safe and loved when he is by my side. We call him our guard dog because he is always alert and ready to protect us.
After seeing how much joy and love Chewie brought into our lives, we decided to get him a friend. Mimi, the youngest member of our family, is a Maltese with fluffy white fur and an adorable face. She has a playful and energetic personality and always makes me laugh with her silly antics. Mimi is always eager to have her food and loves nothing more than snuggling up next to me on the couch or going outside for some fresh air. Mimi is our foodie in the family and is always full of sunshine.
But, my love for Chewie and Mimi goes beyond just their sweet personalities and the joy they bring into my life. Having dogs has taught me many valuable lessons and has shaped me into the person I am today. They have taught me so much about responsibility, hard work, and unconditional love.
One of the most important lessons I have learned from having dogs is the value of responsibility. Taking care of two dogs requires a lot of work and dedication, and I have had to learn to be organized and consistent in order to make sure they are well taken care of. This includes taking them out on walks to ensure they get enough exercise. Caring for my dogs has also taught me the importance of being reliable and following through on my commitments, as they rely on my family and I to meet their needs. But the love and companionship my dogs have given me has made all of the hard work worth it. I have learned that with hard work and dedication, I can accomplish anything like possibly becoming a veterinary surgeon, one of my dream jobs and that the rewards of caring for something or someone are immeasurable.
My dogs have also taught me the power of unconditional love. They are always there for me, no matter what. They are always excited to see me and show me their love and affection in their own special ways. Their love has helped me to feel appreciated, even on my darkest days. They have taught me the true meaning of love and have shown me that it is possible to love and be loved unconditionally.
Overall, Chewie and Mimi have brought so much joy and happiness into my life. They make me feel loved and appreciated every day in a way no other gift has. I'm so grateful to have them as a part of my family, and I can't imagine my life without them. They are the sweetest and most loving dogs I've ever known and have a way of making everyone feel special.
“Two years ago, I met a woman working at a non-profit organization who had been homeless just a couple of years prior. She thanked me for a Shoebox she had received as a gift during that difficult time in her life, as it provided her with a moment of holiday joy. This exchange meant so much to me because it’s exactly what we hoped to accomplish when we started The Shoebox Project 10 years ago. The Shoebox Project started as a small idea, something that my family could do to help others. But it’s mission of connecting people to one another and bringing joy drew people in and led to the creation of a charity that provides gifts to women and girls in shelters — first across Canada, and now in other countries around the world. To this day, I still marvel about how such a simple idea grew into something I could never have dreamed of and one that has impacted so many in need.”
- Caroline Mulroney Lapham, Co-Founder
“Looking back after 10 years, I could have never dreamed of how the Shoebox Project would resonate around the world. The growth of our charity is due entirely to our incredible team of sponsors, coordinators and volunteers, without whom we would be exactly where we were in year one. When imagining Shoebox project ten years from now, I am torn. Ideally there would be no need for what we do. But until that day comes, we will be here, bringing a little bit of joy into the lives of those who deserve it most.”
- Jessica Mulroney, Co-Founder
"After our first year, I realized we had started something really special. We had reached out to a few friends and the response was overwhelming. It was still a small-scale operation but we were able to help people give love and necessities to women in need. There are so many women in shelters who have suffered immensely, and making someone feel loved and supported by their communities can have profound effects. I look forward to the next 10 years and expanding our mission!"
- Katy Mulroney, Co-Founder
“My fondest memory of us starting up The Shoebox Project is delivering boxes with my niece Thea directly to shelters. I loved the moments when we were all together, packing the boxes with our family & volunteers in Ben & Jessica’s garage. I also have always loved getting emails over the years from moms who enjoyed making these boxes with their children, and teaching them the importance of what they were doing. These notes & thoughts are special and show just how much love goes into each Shoebox. The grassroots nature of The Shoebox Project resonates with me most… How happy & special one of these boxes makes someone feel, perhaps when they need it most. Hopefully The Shoebox Project continues to grow without ever losing what makes it special. It’s global now, but it remains one person making an effort for someone they don’t know - Someone in need of the warmth and love that these Shoeboxes bring. We all know this is more important today than ever. The Shoebox Project is always top of mind. I enjoy connecting brands to the charity via our business Power of Privé, especially to raise funds and enhancing the profile of The Shoebox Project.”
- Vanessa Mulroney, Co-Founder