Santa Shoebox Project … not sure I am getting the warm and fuzzy feeling …

I have decided to take part in the Santa Shoebox Project this year.  I went to the website and selected two children per person in our family – the result is 10 boxes.

I should have done less, as 10 is quite a lot of boxes, and if you average out R150.00 – R200.00 a box it is a bit of coughing at your credit card statement.

I selected two boys in the 10 – 12 year old range – partly because I felt that boys in that age range might not be as appealing as shopping for a 3 year old girl.    I also tried to pick children in the same age range as my kids.  Technically these are Connor’s boxes ….. presently he has no idea we are doing Santa Shoebox, so you can see how involved I have managed to get the family.

Granted, I have not told them, that might be the first problem – but I am a bit of a procrastinator and will spring in to action on the day I am meant to drop these boxes off.

I bought the boys playing cards as “toys” – no idea what else I could buy for a 10 – 12 year old that wasn’t a computer.  I also bought them a pack of underpants each and AXE deodorant as extra – I kept trying to bear in mind that the contents of these boxes really needs to be “fun” but realistically useful, and what do they need after the “joy of Xmas” has passed.  Underpants and deodorant seems like a logical gift that keeps on giving.

I bought all the kids a stationery pack which has pencils, pair of scissors, pencils, ruler, eraser etc – the same multi packs I buy for my kids.  For the older boys I also bought a big pack of “bic pens” – and I will add a reading book each as well to their boxes.

Kennith has helped out and has got 10 good sized shoe boxes.  He has also bought some great things from Cape Union Mart to add, like beanies, little LCD torches, sporks (hey makes sense!!)  and so on.  Really nice things for each child.

Today I went shopping to purchase the toiletries, stationery, sweets, toys and the last of the things so that I could sit this weekend and pack these boxes.

I really struggled to find a toys for the children that fitted in to the shoeboxes and weren’t crap.  I really did not want to put things in that would not last to the next day.  I found a good variety, but at some point I needed to stop myself and say “you cannot buy everything, stick to the list …. or you are never going to stop!!”

The bags are lying at the door, with the pile of boxes, and the wrapping paper and stickers I bought to decorate the boxes.

The problem is that shopping today made me feel pretty bleak and sad for these kids.  I kept thinking to myself “what if this shoe box is the only gift this child gets this year?” and I just felt sad, and sort of tearful in the Checkers underwear aisle.

There is nothing I can put into a shoebox that is going to make a long term change to these kids lives – and then I think of my kids who get pretty much anything they want at the drop of a hat, and that just makes me feel worse for the 10 kids names that I am holding.

I had these visions of putting a letter in for each child.  Telling them that they are loved, and that even though today might look a bit bleak, life does go on.  People do make something of themselves no matter how crap their backgrounds.  There are more kind and generous people in the world than mean ones.  But then I decided that might sound a bit twee, so I canned that idea.

I kept thinking about these 10 boxes I was stocking.  “My” kids are : Thaimile (Boy 6); Wilmie (Girl 6); Kamva (Boy 11); Andile Lubabalo (Boy 12); Jayden C (Boy 4); Anelisa (Girl 4); Sammy Joe (Girl 9); Sange (Girl 6); Kayra (Girl 6); Nicolas (Boy 5).

I think the Santa Shoebox Project was aiming to get 100 000 boxes to 100 000 children.  That means 100 000 children whose only gift this year will be one of these shoe boxes – and what about all those kids who did not make the list?  What are those kids getting?

Overwhelmed much?

I know I should be feeling all Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya about taking part in this campaign, but to be honest it really has made me feel terribly sad today!

Otherwise, how are your Santa Shoeboxes coming on?

Leave a comment


  1. Avril

     /  October 15, 2012

    I am part of the Lions Club of Knysna and International and can just imagine the faces of these little ones as we see it every Christmas and Easter when we go to the hospitals PoliceStations Fire and Traffic Department to hand out sweets and presents for the staff and children on duty.I am only doing one box this year but definetly more next is God spares me.Keep up with the good work and this will make South Africa a better place Love you All
    Avril in Plettenberg Bay

  2. Charmaine Glinski

     /  October 12, 2012

    I promised myself only 3 boxes this year. Yeah, right!!! 14 boxes later, each one packed so carefully so that the child be in awe of Christmas for just that one minute of opening the box. YES I cried as I typed personal letter to each one and stuck it on the inside of the lids. BUT prepare yourself for the overwhelming feeling for when you go and drop your boxes off. The friendly and grateful staff and volunteers assisting you as you unload the boxes. The 100’s of beautifully wrapped boxes being opened and inspected, then moved onto the next section. I sat in my car and cried for 10 minutes and was humbled that I was part of the sucess of Santa Shoebox knowing that somewhere some child for that one moment, time will stand still and will know that he\she has received their very own box of santa goodies. That child, that day, will have a good day. Ok I am now all emotional again. (P.S. Decided to be part of the Santa Volunteers and look forward to being one of the welcoming and smiling faces). Note to self: next year ONLY 14 boxes. Yeah right!!!!

  3. Claire Canter

     /  October 12, 2012

    I also chose 10 kids from the list, mine are aged 1 to 6. I feel your frustration about how little those few items are, and a nagging worry that I will just disappoint 10 kids this year for Xmas! I decided to make the box part of the toy, black paper and milky pens and the box lid becomes a road, and for the girls a mirror and a wrapped matchbox and the box becomes a dressing table! Throw in some bling and a hot wheels car and hopefully they have something they can keep for a few months! I am also trying to get everyone I know to donate a box so that at least all the kids on the list get a box and no one child is left out! You really did do a good thing!! Don’t be hard on yourself, every little thing given is something they would not have had otherwise!!

  4. I have pledged 4 boxes this year, to 2x 8 year olds and 2x 7 year olds (1 boy and 1 girl per age). I bit off more than I can chew, but I managed to milk China Town for their rare gems of stuff that wont break in a day, and now my boxes are waiting to be wrapped.

    Tip: I brought home Mondi paper boxes from work (the ones that fit 4 packets of A4 paper) and I’ll trim down the boxes to “shoebox” height, reinforce with duct tape, and their lids are separate. Nice alternative to spending a fortune on shoes, or begging cold-hearted, disinterested shoe sales people who keep saying “NO BOXES!!!”.

  5. Yo

     /  October 12, 2012

    this year i have also joined the Santa shoebox initiative(and i also went “big” and i’m doing 9 boxes 😉 i also think that a letter is a great idea! i found little mirror that I’ve written around them: “you are a beautiful, special person and are loved by God”, i believe that the message that you are worthy is always good to pass and i hope that in some way will inspire these kids in their life. As sad as it is that there are children with so little, i am so grateful that i can do this for someone that i don’t even know. thank you to everyone who gave me this opportunity to give.

  6. Candie Lee

     /  October 12, 2012

    I did one shoebox last year, I signed up late, couldn’t get an actual name, so chose a ‘generic’ 5yr old girl to make a shoebox for because my daughter is 5. When I took it in on the day, I felt all tearful looking at those hundreds of boxes for the children and especially for my little generic. This year, I remarried and gained another daughter aged 7. So I registered early, one shoebox each for my girls. One aged 7 and one aged 6. Again it is bittersweet, the girls helped me shop and pick out outfits and toys but I was tearful thinking of the children we were buying for and their circumstances. Each girl has made a card for their counterpart with drawings and I love you’s all over them. They’re going to come with me on drop off day to experience the handing in of the boxes and to see how many children need them.

  7. Lovely. HAve the boxes for my two – havent done them yet – keep putting it off. I have an 18 year old girl as one of mine and can’t think what clothes to get her! Its a conundrum. But keep up the good blogging (l usually just lurk rather than comment but thought what they hey!) x

  8. We’ve taken 6 boxes, did all the shopping this week, and kept saying “oh and how about this, and this, and this” not sure if all is going to fit into a box…
    Maybe we need to do easter boxes as well, so they get more than 1 gift a year….

  9. Dear Reluctant Mom. I am not a mom but do the boxes each year as a way to give back in a small way. 12 boxes this year and I agree its tough to fill teenager’s boxes but so worthwhile. I have attended a number of celebrations where the kids receive their boxes (was filming SSB’s promo video clip) and the joy on their faces when they open their boxes makes you realise what a difference each box makes. They show each other what they got, they hug their boxes to their chest, they are proud of their new outfits and little boys go bananas for their cars. I’m so glad you’ve done it even if you feel a little sad. It’ll be great when you share the process with your kids so that they also learn the joy of giving. Keep it up!!

  10. Dee

     /  October 12, 2012

    Fantastic that you doing 10! I’ve done 3 – not closed yet so keep buying more goodies. Just bought some Xmas sweeties from Woolies. Also like the idea of putting in an Xmas card. So hope the clothes fit and that the toys are appropriate. The kids come from a special school so I’m not sure how challenged they are if at all. You know what, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled – I hope so! Also volunteering next week. Amazing how you can motivate others to join in – I think I have got an extra 10 people to participate! Such a happy (and sad) project!

  11. Yoli

     /  October 11, 2012

    So the fact that you are sad means you have a heart and you get what this means in reality. These kids probably wont get another pressie even close to what you have put together, you put thought into this and that is what counts, put a letter in the box.

    Go have a read of some of the letters from the kids and then you can have another cry for today. What you are doing now matters, so keep on blogging about it and spread the word, next year it might be a 150 000 smiling kids!

  12. Ok, now I’m feeling sad too, thanks for that!! But really we have been doing this for a few years now and at least it is 1 more gift than they would have received before, even if it is the only 1 they get all year, at least they are getting something.

    I also have not started yet, best I get a move on. I get 3 boxes, 1 for each of my kids, at their age and gender. My daughter died 6 years ago and would have been 7 this year and I always get a gift for a little girl of the same age as she would have been. She was a special needs baby so I always try and pick a little girl with special needs. Bittersweet.

    Oh and a letter is a good idea. Apparently the kids get really excited when they get letters or cards written especially for them.

  13. Leigh

     /  October 11, 2012

    Happy to report my boxes are all done ❤
    Santa Shoe box is an awesome initiative and Irene and the girls do an amazing job each year!
    You are such an amazing writer – you SHOULD include a letter to each child. I put positive words of affirmation on the inside of the box lid and decorated that as well. Well done on ten boxes!!

  14. Charlotte aka The Stiletto Mum

     /  October 11, 2012

    Are you allowed to put scissors in? good on you for filling boxes. I have taken 2 but not even started on it.

  15. The Blessed Barrenness

     /  October 11, 2012

    I haven’t even started mine yet. Usually the week before drop off, I run around like a headless chicken and will probably do the same this year!

  16. I too think the letter idea is good.

  17. I think the letter idea is great – that is really a gift that will keep on giving. You are an amazing person. x


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