Email Us

The Shoebox Project

December 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Special Features


The Shoebox ProjectWhen the women and children at Red Door Family Shelter in Toronto awoke last Christmas morning to find nearly 200 shoeboxes stuffed with thoughtful presents from local women, they were shocked. “It’s a real gift to see that the community cares about them and cares about the crises they’re going through,” says Bernnitta Hawkins, Red Door’s executive director. What stemmed from a generous gesture has become a national initiative to spread joy over the holiday season to those who need it most. “It’s not a huge thing, but I do believe in it,” says Caroline Mulroney Lapham, co-founder of The Shoebox Project.

After a conversation in mid-November 2011, Mulroney Lapham was inspired to help her sister-in-law Jessica Mulroney extend her mother’s philanthropic mission to the streets of Toronto. “Her mother would put together shoeboxes filled with small items that women really enjoyed — little splurges — and she would ask her friends to do the same and deliver them all to a local shelter in Montreal. Jessica said she wanted to bring it here and I thought it’s such a nice idea.” So they banded together with fellow sisters-in-law, Vanessa and Katy Mulroney, and sent an email out to family and friends inviting them to participate. “We were worried for a while that we wouldn’t even get 100 shoeboxes, and low and behold, we got almost 400 without any kind of marketing,” says Mulroney Lapham, who was delighted to be able to share the shoeboxes with other local shelters across the city.

This year, the response has been even greater. From gift certificates and luxury makeup products to hair accessories and winter scarves, compassionate women have been packing boxes with love and bringing them to designated drop-off spots, where they will make their way to various shelters across the city. “A lot of these women have never had perfume or lotions that smell nice or fancy chocolates, so it really does make them smile and it also makes them feel like they’re not forgotten,” says Mulroney Lapham. “I think that people who are privileged in their lives, where they can give back and make a difference, they should try.”

In just one year, Mulroney Lapham and her sisters-in-law have developed a hands-on model that’s been adopted in six cities nationwide, including Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary and London. “The big dream would be that women in shelters all across Canada would have shoeboxes to open on Christmas,” she says.

Local drop-off locations include Royal LePage
— Your Community Realty’s Vaughan and Richmond Hill offices
(9411 Jane St. / 8854 Yonge St.). For content guidelines and additional drop-off spots across the city,
Deadline for drop-off is Dec. 17, 2012


Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!