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Victoria Shoebox Project sets sights on brightening holiday season for 620 women

Donations of shoeboxes filled with $50 in toiletries, gifts and gift cards sought
Shoebox Project Victoria Chapter coordinator Deb Schenk shows off some example shoeboxes. The project is seeking donations for this year’s campaign, with the goal of supporting 620 women. (Photo Courtesy of Deb Schenk)

The Victoria chapter of the Shoebox Project is putting the call out for donations which will help lift the spirits of women in need this holiday season.

Coordinator Deb Schenk said this year the chapter has identified a need for 620 shoeboxes to be given to women in 15 transition homes across Greater Victoria.

“Throughout the year they are fighting their battles, feeling insignificant and powerless,” said Schenk. “This is making them feel loved. They get so much joy out of it knowing they are thought of.”

Schenk said each shoebox is filled with $50 worth of gift cards, toiletries, makeup, jewelry and other accessories, and is intended to help disadvantaged women feel seen and supported by the community during a particularly stressful time of year.

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The initiative was founded in Toronto a decade ago and has since expanded with chapters across Canada. According to its website, the initiative has been a success from the get-go, with the first Toronto edition receiving 400 shoebox donations against a goal of 156.

In Victoria, Schenk said they have previously been able to donate as many as 1,000 boxes in one year.

This year, there are multiple ways people can support the project. Schenk said virtual shoeboxes can be put together and purchased, or cash donations can be made on the project’s website, or a physical shoebox can be made and dropped off at several locations until Dec. 17.

Those donating a complete shoebox are asked not to include super-sized or hotel toiletries, sized clothing, used items or candles in the boxes. Boxes must also be wrapped in a way that they can still be opened when dropped-off, to allow inspection before they are given to recipients.

In Greater Victoria, shoeboxes can be dropped off at the following locations: Mayfair Shopping Centre, Artsee Eyewear, Progressive Chiropractic, Coastal Community Credit Union, Ruffell and Brown, Royal LePage real estate offices, Carolyn’s Boutique, Shoppers Drugmart (Sooke), Sands Funeral Home and Madrona Massage.

“If you can’t quite afford the full $50 for a shoebox, you can have a shoebox party with a couple friends or co-workers,” said Schenk. “You can get five or so people together and each of you can put a few things in as a collective. It’s something I highly recommend.”

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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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