santa shoebox project volunteers

Santa Shoebox Project: How to Get Involved & Make a Difference

Names are being picked, shoeboxes are being collected, the excitement is palpable.

Yep, you guessed it! It’s Santa Shoebox Project time!

Not sure yet what all the fuss is about?

Allow me to enlighten you…

santa shoebox project boxes ready to go
Image courtesy of @santashoebox

What is the Santa Shoebox Project?

Started in 2006, the Santa Shoebox Project is an organisation of volunteers. These volunteers work as secret Santa elves to make sure that a large number (up to 1 million) of children receive something special for Christmas every year.

These children all come from less-fortunate homes, and often won’t receive anything else over the festive season. The shoeboxes are filled with necessities and treats and offer a glimmer of joy into the lives of these children.

little girl with her santa shoebox
Image courtesy of @santashoebox

How Does the Project Work?

The Santa Shoebox Project works throughout the year to gather as many names of children who need Christmas gifts as they possibly can. Those children are then added to their database, and listed on the website.

You then pick a child to give a happy Christmas to and download the shopping list. I am terrible at giving gifts, so having the Santa Shoebox list takes that anxiety away from me.

After you have your special child’s name, gender, and age, the process of purchasing, packing, and delivering your shoebox is as follows:

organising volunteers - santa shoebox project
Image courtesy of @santashoebox

How to Donate to Santa Shoebox Project

Once you have your child, the step is to stop off at your nearest Stor-Age to collect a complementary shoebox. ‘Cos they’re awesome like that.


Fill it With the Necessary Items

You choose the child or children that you would like to buy a shoebox for. (If you are too busy to shop, you can simply donate an already packed shoebox). You then get the list of items and go shopping. This is what you fill your shoebox with:

  1. Toothpaste
  2. Toothbrush
  3. Bar of soap
  4. Washcloth
  5. An outfit of clothing
  6. Educational supplies
  7. Sweets
  8. A toy

You can get tips and more HERE

Obviously, this should all be age-appropriate, depending on your chosen child. Most of these items can be found at PEP, making them affordable. The estimated cost of a shoebox in 2019 is R350.

Decorate Your Box

Then you wrap your shoebox!

Or decorate it, paint it, decoupage it, anything that makes it unique and festive!

The aim is to make the box attractive to the child’s specific age, and perhaps gender. When I volunteered to check boxes, I saw some innovative designs! Someone even painted their box with chalkboard paint so that the receiver could draw on his/her box when they got it.

Just be sure not to close the box – as they do need to be checked before they go to their destinations. They’re checked to make sure they have everything they need, as well as to ensure there is nothing dangerous in them. Or if there is anything that has leaked/broken.

Drop Your Santa Shoebox Off

And then, when you have your shoebox packed and ready, you drop it off at your nearest drop off point.

The drop off points are usually open for around 3 days. They’re also usually buzzing with festive cheer and energy. Often, there’ll be photo stops and sometimes a Santa there to greet you. It’s a great place to take the kids to show them where the boxes that they’ve (hopefully) helped you pack are going.

group of santa shoebox project volunteers
Image courtesy of @santashoebox

Volunteer Your Time

And if you’re really looking for some holiday cheer, join us Santa Shoebox elves by volunteering at a drop off! I’ve done this twice now, and it’s one of the best ways to spend some time for the community.

So many boxes came in and so many people were helping, you can’t help but catch the happy energy. There are jobs for the teens, so take them with! And there’s something different for everyone’s abilities.

Volunteer shifts are usually 1 – 2 hours, and so you can pick a time that works for you. It’s a great way to grab the family, the office team, or just your group of friends and spend some time together while spreading joy.

The organisers are also amazing people and really have so much energy and laughter to share.

kids thankful for santa shoebox Christmas boxes
Image courtesy of @santashoebox


Ok, so on marks, get set, GO and find your shoebox names and get registered to volunteer! To volunteer at the CTICC in Cape Town click HERE

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