Left to right: Marina Hargrave, the lead for Port Hardy/North Island, and her daughter Park Hargrave. (Submitted photo)

Left to right: Marina Hargrave, the lead for Port Hardy/North Island, and her daughter Park Hargrave. (Submitted photo)

Shoebox gifts given out this holiday season to women in need in the North Island

At the end of the campaign, the project had reached about 77 per cent of their goal

Once again the community stepped up to make The Campbell River Shoebox Project Holiday Drive a success.

There are so many individuals, groups, businesses and agencies who helped make it possible for vulnerable women in Campbell River and Port Hardy/North Island to receive gift-filled Shoeboxes this holiday season.

Early in the campaign there seemed to be a buzz of excitement in the community with the return to collecting and distributing Shoeboxes after two years of providing gift cards during the pandemic. Initially Shoeboxes came in to the Drop off Locations at a good pace which was wonderful to see.

However Shoebox donations dropped significantly and the week it snowed brought donations almost to a hault. It did pick up some in the last week with Shoeboxes being brought in to the drop off locations, but not at the volume seen in the final days prior to the pandemic. With a plea for more Shoeboxes and online donations, people in Campbell River responded and we quickly purchased supplies to create more Shoeboxes.

“By the end of the Holiday Drive we were pleased to be able to provide gifts to the most vulnerable women at least,” said local Coordinator Alison Skrepneck.

The goal this year was to provide 575 Shoebox gifts valuing $50 for local vulnerable women; 455 for Campbell River and 120 for Port Hardy/North Island.

At the end of the holiday drive from local donations and some extra funding, the project had reached about 77 per cent of their goal. Over 440 local women will receive Shoeboxes this year; more than 375 women in Campbell River and about 65 women in Port Hardy/North Island. The total value of Shoeboxes that were donated and created was over $22,000 this year.

The women who receive the Shoebox gifts filled with essentials and little luxuries are very appreciative knowing that others in the community are thinking of them at what can be a difficult time of year.

“We deliver the Shoeboxes to the local shelters and agencies but I don’t usually get to speak with the women who receive the gifts,” said Skrepneck. “I did however have an opportunity to attend the Campbell River Transition Society’s Christmas open house recently. I could feel the excitement and positive energy in the room and it was very touching to speak with a few of the women about their Shoebox gifts. They were all very grateful. Several women said they wanted to wait until Christmas to open their gift as it was the only one they would receive. One woman said her gift had everything she liked and she was happy to see that there was no assumption that people with nothing wouldn’t want nice things. One of the women said that although the gift cards the last few years were okay, she really liked receiving the Shoebox gift. Another woman told me she liked the card and message that was inside the Shoebox the most.”

This was the 10th year for The Shoebox Project in Campbell River and the sixth year for Port Hardy/North Island. Even with rising costs, challenges with making ends meet for people and competing priorities, community members who could were very generous this year.

In Port Hardy/North Island, Shoeboxes were distributed to local women by Marina Hargrave, local lead for the project through the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre Society.

Providing the gifts to local vulnerable women at this time of year is only possible with the support of the community, and the compassion and generosity of many individuals, groups, agencies and businesses.

The Campbell River Shoebox Project was able to access some additional funding again this year which meant more Shoebox gifts were possible over and above those that were donated by the public. Thanks for the additional funding of community grants from Coastal Community Credit Union and Campbell River Rotary. As well, fortunately the project received some Indigenous funds from The Shoebox Project head office in Toronto for Port Hardy/North Island which helped increase the number of Shoeboxes delivered there.

Thanks once again Campbell River and the North Island for supporting The Shoebox Project this year. The warmth, kindness and compassion that has been shown by our community, is proof that people truly care about one another. As one community member commented about The Shoebox Project, “What a beautiful community gift!”

Watch for more information next fall. Online donations can be made year round by visiting The Shoebox Project website at www.shoeboxproject.com.


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