Shoebox project organizers hope to collect 750 wrapped boxes this year

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The Muskoka community has always been supportive of those in need and the Muskoka Shoebox project only demonstrates that further.

As the holidays are a particularly tough time for women who cannot afford much, the Muskoka Shoebox project’s goal is to gather shoeboxes filled with gifts for women in need including those in poverty or facing homelessness, mental illness or domestic abuse.

Not only does the project help women in need of items they cannot afford themselves, but by wrapping the gift and placing thoughtful notes inside, the boxes let each woman know that someone is thinking about them and cares about them.

“The Shoebox Project for women was founded in 2011 by four sisters-in-law from Toronto looking for a hands-on way to give back to their community,” said Muskoka co-ordinator Penny Burns. “Through word of mouth and social media, they have grown quickly and there are now local initiatives across Canada and in some parts of the United States.”

The Muskoka-wide project, established in 2015, is being held again for 2017 but this time with an even larger goal in mind.

When the drive was first run in 2015 the number of boxes gathered was 352 and increased to an even more incredible number of 659 in 2016. This year their goal is to collect at least 750 shoeboxes to brighten the holidays for women in need.

“What’s heartwarming is the way the community has embraced the project as well as the feedback we’ve gotten from agencies about how much this means to the recipients,” said Burns. “Unfortunately, each year we find the need for donations even greater.”

People of all ages around Muskoka are invited to participate in the project and a lot of families take the Shoebox Project on as a holiday family project.

When asked what to include in their shoebox, participants are told, “something warm, something sparkly and something chocolate. Also make sure the items are only new,” said Burns.

It is important to remember that since it’s a Christmas-themed box, you want the women to feel special.
Penny Burns, Shoebox Project Co-ordinator

The following is a list of suggested gifts for the boxes:

  • mittens
  • scarves
  • socks
  • costume jewelry
  • makeup (lip gloss, lip balm, mascara, nail polish, etc.)
  • chocolates & candy
  • umbrella
  • deck of cards
  • notebook
  • lotions
  • tea
  • gift cards (with amount written on the card)
  • anonymous notes of love and encouragement

If you are located in Huntsville, please bring your wrapped shoebox to either of these Huntsville locations: Beckers Shoes in Huntsville Place Mall or Royal LePage,100-395 Centre St. N.

The deadline for the project is December 1 and the boxes will be delivered to organizations such as Christine’s Place, Muskoka Victim Services, YWCA Muskoka, Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group and many more deserving locations.

For more information, please visit the Muskoka Shoebox Project website here, or follow their Facebook page.

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