Allstate Canada is partnering with the Shoebox Project for the sixth year in a row and this time around, the company is offering to match all monetary donations up to $25,000 until Dec. 12.
The Shoebox Project is a national charity that hosts gift drives across the country. Local branches of the organization collect shoeboxes containing $50 worth of little luxuries for women facing homelessness and poverty. The Muskoka branch just wrapped up their campaign for the year, collecting 1,372 shoeboxes for women in the region. As part of the matching challenge, donors can choose to make a contribution to the project’s general fund, to their local branch of the Shoebox Project, or in support of Indigenous women. The matching funds donated by Allstate will go to the project’s general fund.
“We try to direct as many of the individual donations back to the local community as we can, so we really rely on corporate partners to support our day-to-day operations,” said Lesley Hendry, executive director of the Shoebox Project. “Since we are a national charity, we have necessary expenses that need to be covered and the corporate partners that we have really help us with that.”
Hendry said it’s wonderful to have an enthusiastic partner like Allstate on board for the sixth year in a row. The company has donated money in past years, but this is the first time their contribution has been made in the form of a matching challenge. Hendry is excited to see how it goes and hopes it will encourage donors to be generous since their contributions will be matched by Allstate.
It also means a lot to Hendry to see local efforts in communities like Muskoka continue to thrive. Volunteers in Muskoka have done a great job growing the local chapter, she said, and it’s amazing to see the support they receive year after year.
“The impact that our volunteers are able to have at a community level has been so inspirational,” Hendry said. “The Shoebox Project is just a simple but fun way to get everybody thinking about others in their community and kind of putting themselves in their shoes. Especially in Muskoka where there’s a big disparity of wealth, I think it’s really impactful.”
Since Shoebox Project efforts are done for the year in Muskoka, any funds donated to the Muskoka branch will be used for other initiatives throughout the year, said local organizer Jennifer Stevenson. Holidays like Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day present another opportunity to celebrate women in the region, so any donations through the campaign would go toward those efforts.
During her time as executive director, Hendry said one of the most special parts of the job has been witnessing the different ways each community runs their shoebox drives to address the challenges and needs of their neighbours. The gifts make a real difference to the women who receive them, and for Hendry, one of the most impactful parts of the process is seeing former recipients return as donors.
“Many shoebox recipients come back once they’re in a better position as a donor and they’ll make a shoebox for somebody else, kind of paying it forward, so that’s been really interesting to see,” she said. “It really just goes to show that Shoebox really did make an impression on that person, enough that now that they have an extra $50, they’re doing the same for somebody else.”
The gifts contained in the shoeboxes go beyond just essentials to include special items like gift cards, luxury beauty products and hand-written notes. These additions help give the recipients a sense of dignity, Hendry said, while also reminding them that they belong to a community that cares.
“You can’t underestimate the power of a kind gesture,” she said. “It’s not a difficult thing to make a shoebox and it’s quite fun and creative, but it can have a really important impact on the person that receives it.”
To make a donation, visit the Shoebox Project website.