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1st Floor Lona House
212 Upper Buitengracht
Bo Kaap, Cape Town, 8001

Jaime-Lee Gardner
072 171 1979

Louise Martin
073 335 4084

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Santa Shoe box

A great community-building opportunity

By Jennifer Stern

, |

Santa Shoe box

A great community-building opportunity

By Jennifer Stern

, |

2 min read

It’s spring – that means that summer can’t be far behind, and summer means Christmas. And Christmas is about more than just gobbling turkey, guzzling mince pies, and glugging down bubbly. Christmas is about giving, sharing, and – mostly – about children. So why not take the opportunity – as a community – to share the love?

Santa Shoebox

The Santa Shoebox project is a non-profit organisation that collects and distributes hundreds of thousands of curated gift parcels to underprivileged children in South Africa. With any luck, and with your help, this year they may top the 1 million mark.

The process is simple: you pledge to provide a gift, you choose your recipient, you get to go shopping for cute stuff, fill and decorate your box, and then you drop it off at a designated spot.

Great community building opportunity

This is a great way to harness all that good will stored up in your residents – many of whom may already be individual shoebox Santas. If you have 20 or more people, you can do a team pledge by emailing:

While this really is about doing good, it’s also a lot of fun, especially for people who don’t have children. It gives you the perfect excuse to buy that adorable Hello Kitty dress, or a fluffy unicorn. And decorating the boxes is possibly even more fun. In fact, you could even have an estate box-decorating competition, with residents vying to outdo each other in colourful creativity.

If you don’t have the time, you live too far out, or you are avoiding the shops and all public places as much as possible, you can donate a virtual Santa Shoebox. Exactly the same principle, except the shopping and filling will be done for you. You can still add that personal touch, though, by choosing the gifts and even writing a card or note.

The personal touch

The nice thing about this project is that it is personal. You can get to choose the age and gender of your recipient child, which is great because some of us would love to go shopping for teenage girls, and some us prefer to shop for toddlers. Once you’ve completed your pledge, you get the name of the child, so you can write a card or note as well.

You get a list of the required contents, which are a good balance of sensible and fun:

  • a toothbrush and toothpaste
  • soap and a facecloth
  • a toy
  • school supplies
  • sweets
  • an outfit of clothing.

Even the box can be part of the gift – use a sturdy box or, if you are using a real shoebox, glue thick wrapping paper (or even better, fabric) around the whole box and the lid to create a strong and useful container. It’s important that the boxes can be opened without destroying the wrapping, as each one is checked for compliance. For advice on how to pack your Santa Shoebox, here’s the inimitable Suzelle.

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