Results are in for the seventh annual Muskoka Shoebox Project and the community met the project’s goal for the year, creating 1,372 shoeboxes for local women impacted by homelessness and poverty.
Organizers are wrapping up their work for the season after they finished distributing the shoeboxes to local agencies on Dec. 6. They were aiming to collect between 1,370 and 1,400 shoeboxes, so after last year’s virtual approach, they were excited to meet this year’s goal. Jennifer Stevenson and her daughter-in-law Sarah took over as coordinators of the local project last year. Stevenson said it was amazing to watch the boxes stack up after handing out mostly gift cards during their first year as organizers, and she’s grateful for the volunteers that made it all possible.
“The ladies, I call them the shoebox elves, are very well seasoned supporters of shoebox and have done these boxes with the previous team over the years,” she said. “Their efforts were unsurpassed. They were absolutely incredible and kept a really amazing pace and there was a lot of laughter and fun in the room and a lot of joy in creating these beautiful boxes.”
The team of volunteers checked every box to make sure they were all equal and contained about $50 worth of gifts. They topped boxes off with donations of scarves, hats and other items along with adding hand-written cards where necessary. Financial donations went toward topping off existing boxes as well as creating new ones altogether, which helped them to meet their goal of 1,370.
The feedback from the agencies that receive and distribute the gifts to local women has been amazing, Stevenson said. Working on the Muskoka Shoebox Project has been very rewarding and she’s met a lot of amazing women from Muskoka in the process, which is why she and her daughter-in-law plan to stay on as organizers for the foreseeable future.
“We’re so grateful to the community, those that donated the boxes, those that supported us from a retail standpoint, the service organizations that financially supported us,” Stevenson said. “It’s definitely a community effort and it cannot get done without people, time and the generosity of the community.”
For more updates on the seventh annual Muskoka Shoebox Project, visit the project’s Facebook page.