CAMPBELL RIVER SHOEBOX PROJECT PHOTO Jeanie Mathews, Alison Skrepneck (Coordinator) and Linda Adams deliver shoeboxes during the project last year in Campbell River.

Shoebox project helps women in need

“It’s a very simple concept but it can have quite an impact.”

A new project that aims to help women feel special during the holidays has come to the North Island.

The Shoebox Program asks people to decorate a shoebox and pack it full of gift items to benefit vulnerable or struggling women in the community.

“In speaking with people I know in the North Island and they said there was a big need up there,” said Alison Skrepneck, who has been the Coordinator for the Campbell River Shoebox Project for the last five years. “This is the first year doing the project in the North Island,” she added.

Last year, over 260 gifts were delivered to 11 organizations in Campbell River. The goal for 2017 for Campbell River is 290 Shoeboxes with an additional 50 for the North Island totaling 340 Shoeboxes.

Skrepneck said she was able to connect with the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre’s Marina Hargrave, to act as the contact person for the North Island.

“Women who are vulnerable may not have money to purchase things for themselves and often don’t feel positive about themselves so this is an opportunity to lift their self-esteem and make them feel special,” said Skrepneck.

Participants are asked to first decorate their shoebox and then fill it with $50 worth of items that would help any woman feel special, whether it’s giftcards, skin care products, quality soaps or shampoos, make-up, chocolates, or warm socks and mittens.

“Women really appreciate the shoe boxes and some say things like ‘this is the only gift I will get at Christmas’ it means so much to them,” said Skrepneck, who then gave the example that “if they have children with what little money they may have, they forget about themselves and buy something for their children.”

Those interested in participating can take their shoe box to the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre, at 7095 Beverley Parnham Way in Port Hardy from Nov.13 to Dec. 8.

Skrepneck said they also encourage people to include a message in the shoebox, like hopeful thoughts or a poem. “Messages will have a big impact on the women themselves. They say the message can be more impactful than the items because it means someone is thinking about them,” said Skrepneck.

The Shoebox Project was founded in 2011 by Toronto sister-in-laws Caroline,

Jessica, Katy and Vanessa Mulroney. The Shoebox Project now delivers 36,000 gifts annually to hundreds of communities across North America.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be apart of a project like this,” said Skrepneck, “It really is a nice way to have a human touch and to be thinking about someone else – It’s a very simple concept but it can have quite an impact.”

Skrepneck noted that if the $50 dollar value is too much, groups are welcome to combine their efforts and create a shoebox together.

Those who would like to participate but don’t have the time to make a shoebox themselves can also donate online at www.theshoeboxproject.com.

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