Last year’s delighted recipients of toys for Christmas. Photos: Supplied
GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Every year thousands of children across South Africa and Namibia receive a shoebox filled with gifts from Santa Shoebox donors.
Santa Shoebox facilitates the giving of gifts to underprivileged children to connect people and bring joy.
The Santa Shoebox Project celebrates its 10th birthday this year. It provides 100,000 Christmas presents to underprivileged children nationally.
The Project is an inspiring community initiative that collects uniquely personalised gifts for underprivileged children. Equally, the project is about parents teaching their own children the joy of giving.
A gift to be shared with a child from a distinctly vulnerable social background, who may never before have received a gift and is used to hand-me downs. The Project is unique in that the donor knows the name, age and gender of the child for whom the gift is intended.
Local organiser Kelly Picken explains: “The project has grown in leaps and bounds on the Garden Route, with the number of Santa Shoeboxes growing from a humble 600 boxes in 2014 to a record 3 000 this year. The boxes are distributed to more than 57 recipient facilities. The success of the project can largely be attributed to its personal nature. It brings tears to many eyes and joy to many hearts!”
Picken says the goal is to continue to grow the recipients by at least 1 000 boxes every year.
“Our dream is for every underprivileged child on the Garden Route to receive a Christmas present. For a lot of these children, it is the only present they receive.
“There are lots of boys and girls out there who think the world does not care. We show them that we do!
It is touching to watch a shy grin spread across the face of a child when they receive something as simple as their own toothbrush.
They often do not smile when we meet them because they are confused or nervous or even a little scared. It is not every day a stranger arrives at your little school. All that fear is forgotten when they realise what is inside their shoebox. The smiles and giggles are not contained for too long.”
Picken says while the project excels in this area with the combined support our very generous community and 3 000 Santa Shoeboxes is an anomaly in a small community like ours, more presents are needed to meet the target.