The Dec. 1 deadline is fast approaching for the 2020 Muskoka Shoebox Project and this year it has a virtual spin, offering locals three ways to donate in lieu of the traditional shoeboxes.
The Shoebox Project usually has donors fill shoeboxes with $50 worth of small gifts for women in need, but this year, the event has moved online due to COVID. Locals can now support the initiative by making a monetary donation, donating a gift card or building a virtual shoebox. Organizers for the local chapter of the initiative Joanne Buie, Penny Burns and Barb Baldwin stepped down in June after five years of service. Not wanting to see the project come to an end in Muskoka, Jennifer Stevenson and her daughter-in-law Sarah stepped up to lead the initiative. Even though things are different this year, Stevenson is hopeful that locals will still contribute to the cause and help them reach their goal of $25,000.
“It’s a really nice way to share a little bit of cheer at this time of year and we know it puts a smile on these women’s faces when they receive a gift,” Stevenson said. “It will look different, but the thought and the care in going out to do that is still behind the project.”
Locals can go online to make a donation, or they can visit drop boxes across Muskoka to donate gift cards for stores like Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, local grocery stores and more. Donors also have the option to build a virtual shoebox. No matter how the donations are made, all the funding and gift cards will support women in Muskoka.
“Each of the items you put in the shoebox are symbolic, they’re not actual pieces,” Stevenson said. “What it does is generate funds for us to buy gift cards for the women that we’re supporting, so in the end, what we will be delivering are gift cards and some essential bulk items where we are able to.”
Stevenson encourages those tight on cash this holiday season to spread the word about the initiative. While it’s been a difficult year for many, it’s important to her to make sure that women across Muskoka know that they’re cared for, respected and loved in the community.
“It’s still the Shoebox Project, and we’re still helping women in need [and] in transition,” Stevenson said. “It looks a little bit different this year, but it’s just as important as any other year.”
To build a virtual shoebox or to make a donation, visit the Shoebox Project website. Watch the video below created by real estate agents Jessica Brown and Victoria Darling-Wadel to see how you can put together a virtual shoebox, and see the flyer for drop-off locations and other details.