Shoebox Project for Women at McMaster University

Shoebox Project for Women at McMaster University

By: Davneet Sihota, BHSc (Honours), Class of 2021

In 2019, I co-founded a chapter of the Shoebox Project for Women at McMaster University, alongside 3rd year Commerce student, Kiran Bassi.

The Shoebox Project for Women collects and distributes gift-filled Shoeboxes to local women impacted by homelessness. Thoughtfully created and decorated shoeboxes are filled with items valued at $50 that enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation. The holiday season and special occasions may be challenging for women who have been displaced from their homes and estranged from their families. Thus, women may feel disconnected from society, invisible and alone. A Shoebox gift is a powerful reminder to every woman that they have not been forgotten and remain valued and respected by members of their community.

Our first endeavour with the Shoebox Project began in March 2019 when we organized a one-day International Women’s Day Drive event at McMaster University where students made Shoebox gifts, filling them with items such as hats, mittens, cosmetic items, gift cards, journals, and handwritten personalized encouraging messages. This event raised a total of 13 Shoeboxes worth approximately 650 dollars, which were donated to the Hamilton Shoebox Project to distribute to shelters in the local community.

For Mother’s Day Drive 2019, we joined forces with the Hamilton Shoebox Project to organize a city-wide Shoebox drive throughout April and May. During this time, we worked with local businesses to establish drop-off locations, promoted the drive on social media to encourage McMaster students to participate, and were responsible for inspecting and hand-delivering all donated Shoeboxes to women’s shelters in Hamilton. This gift drive produced 60 Shoeboxes worth approximately 3,000 dollars.

Lastly, for the 2019 and 2020 holiday season, we led a group of students a part of the McMaster Shoebox Project in organizing a two-month holiday Shoebox gift drive from November and throughout December. We collected 100 Shoeboxes worth 5,000 dollars by executing marketing campaigns that encouraged students to donate; acquired donations from local businesses; and partnered with Christmas markets, libraries, churches, and individuals from both the McMaster and Hamilton communities.

The Shoebox Project for Women website: https://www.shoeboxproject.com

The Shoebox Project for Women, McMaster Chapter’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/macshoeboxproject/