2019 Holiday Gift Campaign - Results and Wrap-Up Letter
With Heartfelt“Thanks”to All ofYOU – Our Donors, Supporters and Volunteers
Please feel joy and pride in knowing that, because of your efforts, during the 2019 Christmas and holiday season,
…there are 1,421 women in our provincial communities who have experienced the caring compassion and loving hearts of complete strangers. …there are 1,421 women in our provincial communities who have felt invisible and alone and are now feeling the acknowledgment and importance of their existence. …there are 1,421 women in our provincial communities who, if only for even one day, can believe in a oh-so deserved brighter, happier, and safe future, because there is a stranger who believes in them and took the opportunity to express that belief by the offering of a simple, but meaningful Shoebox gift and note of encouragement.
For the last 7 years, The Manitoba Chapter of The Shoebox Project for Women has appealed to the generous nature of Manitobans and asked them to please take the time and give of themselves, whether it be individually or collaboratively with family and friends, work colleagues, book clubs, or organized school programs to help us facilitate the collection and delivery of Shoebox gifts though our annual Holiday Shoebox Gift Drive campaigns.
We are more than aware of the many meaningful charitable initiatives and endeavours that are equally deserving of your valuable time and monetary support, and we never take for granted that we will be the very fortunate beneficiary of your generosity. Yet year after year, when we are so anxious that we will never come close to fulfilling the ‘Wish List’ numbers submitted to us by our partnering agencies and organizations, you come through for us!
Yes…admittedly some years we come a lot closer to fulfilling those ‘Wish List’ numbers than others - it was 1,900 give or take this year - but to know the level of effort and empathy that abounds, means so much. Please know how very profoundly grateful we are. This is not a numbers game for us, it is not about beating ‘last year’s recorded donations’…it is simply about trying to make a tangible difference in a woman’s life. A life that has been dealt an unimaginable host of circumstances that many will not recover from for years – if ever.
Although we are classified as a charitable organization, I have always thought of The Shoebox Project for Women as an organization that is much more than offering a charity gift to someone. For me it is about the affirmation and message to women surviving unspeakable treatment and facing the consequences and challenges of homelessness often as a direct result of their treatment. What I believe we deliver is a message of hope and acknowledgment…at least that is what I hope we do.
Where do I begin to express how thankful we are for the continuing support we receive from our committed corporate supporters, our hardworking volunteer Shoebox ‘Family’, and of course, our donors. It is not – and never will be - an exaggeration to say we truly could not do what we do without all of you!
The first order of business for our annual campaign is making sure that we have somewhere to stage our Drive work, and we have been so lucky to have St. Eugene Parish support our initiative for a 5th year, and make available to us their upstairs Parish Hall. We are very grateful to Suzette who keeps our scheduling needs looked after, and to Carole and Brunel for always being available for encouragement – mindful and physical support interchangeably! Thank you to all three of you…we are very, very fortunate for your belief in what we do, and for the Parish’s acceptance!
Making sure we can pack up and get our donors’ contributions readied for delivery is Mid West Packaging Inc. A very big “Thank you” to Chris and the Daley family and team for providing cartons to make this possible. Every year the numbers and sizes change, but we are never denied what we need!
For always getting our northern and rural partner deliveries made, we are so grateful to Gardewine General Freight and Birkett Freight Solutions for the donation of warehouse space, city and driver talent! A very special “thank you” to April at Gardewine General Freight, and Neil and Brenda at Birkett Freight Solutions for organizing our pick-ups and deliveries so efficiently and expertly. You always make sure there is much joy delivered on time for our out-of-town partners and the women they serve.
Having convenient and secure drop-off locations for our donor’s Shoeboxes is such an important part of our Drive campaign. We were so very lucky once again to have the participation of eight Winnipeg Public Library Branches, and the Headingley Municipal Library. Thank you to Irmy and the WPL Branch Heads and staff, and to Alison at the HML for making sure our promotional materials and display sample Shoeboxes are always situated in the very best spots for exposure…we are very appreciative! Rounding out our list of independent drop-off locations were owner Annabel Scott’s Pilates Manitoba, owner Heather Urquhart’s Huna with support from Mary-Anne in the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals building, and owner Glenn Sanclemente’s Pharmasave in Oakbank. Without the gracious participation of these facilities and businesses we would be very hard pressed to collect the number of donations that flow through their premises. This year 1,062 Shoebox gift donations found their way through these doors!
Although we were not fortunate enough to have the on-air promotional support we were graced with last year, we are still very grateful to QX104 for providing space on their web site’s PSA page for us…thank you to Suzan Goritz and the radio station for their consideration!
As always, receiving donations from our generous community is critical to our success and fulfillment. Every single Shoebox makes a big difference to our goal and every in-kind donation provides an opportunity for another Shoebox to be composed or enhanced! This year realized a wide array of donations from individuals, groups and corporate collaborations. Choosing which donors to mention ‘in print’ is akin to being asked which of your children is your favourite! Impossible to do! Please know all of your donations – big or small in numbers - are so very special to us. It could have been Rikki, Nadine or Sam and Jacqueline making sure their personal donations got to us for a woman in need, or the 35 Shoebox gifts donated by the ever-supportive University of Women’s Club Alumnae…thank you Sandy and Sue for organizing your event once more. Other groups that are engaged in their own beneficent work donated to our initiative because they believe in what we are doing. The Chemo Savvy Dragon Boat Team members (which also include several of our own Shoebox ‘Family’ volunteers!) donated 28 Shoeboxes plus extra in-kind items, and 21 Shoeboxes composed by The Winnipeg Newcomers’ Alumnae and spear-headed by Jerri and Sylvia found their way to us for another year. Thank you! New to our corporate donor list this year was Westburne Electric’s employees who donated 13 Shoebox gifts…with appreciation to Steve for reaching out to us!
Admittedly a couple of donations caught my attention this year solely because of their origins! The first one was a donation of 33 Shoebox gifts from the military spouses of 17 Wing Winnipeg service personnel. From a group of spouses who know so much about sacrifice for the well-being and safety of others, this was a very humbling contribution. This was also made special by the inclusion of a military spouse of an American service member! Thank you, Anya, for organizing your counterparts and for choosing our organization. The other donation of 24 Shoebox gifts came from a group of friends organized by Michelle Plas, founder and creative force behind Little Hunter and Co based out of Lorette, Manitoba. Michelle’s sister Roxanne is the Coordinator of the new Montérégie Chapter in Québec! (Our “Congratulations” to Roxanne on a very successful first-year campaign!) Not only did Michelle promote her sister’s endeavours in Québec, but she found the generosity to promote and support our Manitoba Chapter!
I also would be very remiss if I did not send a big thank you once again to teacher Ms. Lacey Forbes who with her colleagues at Sisler High School dedicate their time and commitment to the Sisler Girl’s Empowerment Group. This wonderful group of young women - who rotate out of course over the years - take their lessons of strength, compassion, encouragement and giving into action by composing Shoeboxes for other women and girls, some their own age, to show them they are not alone. This year we were once again the fortunate recipients of 44 Shoebox gifts contributed by these young students. Thank you to the students and to Ms. Forbes for instilling the values of caring and beneficence in our next generation of amazing women.
Always with my gratitude and admiration for our own volunteers who not only give of their time by volunteering for Shoebox checking and/or donation pick-ups and deliveries, but many also find time and means to donate Shoebox gifts themselves. Thank you for the additional contributions! Although we have been graced in the past by the wonderful attendance of volunteers Ann and Richard Walker during our checking sessions, this was not to be this year. In spite of their physical absence, Ann and Richard hosted their own annual Christmas gathering with friends that highlight The Shoebox Project for Women as a beneficiary. We are once again grateful to the Walkers and their friends for the donation of 20 Shoebox gifts, delivered personally to the hall! Thank you, Ann and Richard!
As special and important as composed Shoeboxes are to us, we always delight in receiving full-size in-kind and/or monetary donations. These donations allow us to enhance - or even compose - Shoeboxes if required. This year was a treat to receive several donations in these two categories!
In particular, in-kind donations of knitted items are expressly welcomed. We take pride in being a Chapter that serves partners in and outside of the city limits, with communities served in the rural and northern areas of Manitoba. Cold weather wear is especially appreciated by the women living in these areas. Thank you to Penny once again this year for sharing her time and talent through her large donation of scarves, neck warmers, mitts and tuques. We are so appreciative! A big thank you as well to the KnitWit knitting group for their donation of slippers, hats and neck warmers to mention a few of their contributions. We are very appreciative of these donations and thank you to Sandy for delivering the items to us!
In addition to the miscellaneous goods delivered in bags and boxes we received from individuals and from our own volunteers, we received corporate in-kind donations from Huna and from Kimberly and her husband, David. In addition to providing a drop-off location for donations, Heather Urquhart, Botanist, Herbalist, founder and owner of ‘home-grown’ company Huna, donated a large quantity of bottled Calendula Healing Oil which we know have been received with joy by many women! Thank you, Heather, for giving of your time and expertise with a goal of uplifting women in a tangible way. Kimberly and David once again donated a large quantity of miscellaneous beauty and grooming products that also have been so well-received by many women. For your generosity, Kimberly and David, thank you! From a donor who chooses to remain anonymous, we also had a large donation of facial toner which was distributed generously to our partners for the women to choose a product for themselves based on their personal skin type! You know who you are! Thank you!
We were also very lucky to receive several monetary donations this year which is always most welcome! Monetary donations allow us to purchase Shoebox items used to supplement and/or compose Shoeboxes and purchase necessary supplies that keep our campaign going. Simple items such as hot chocolate, treats, toothpaste and toothbrushes, socks, ribbon, packing tape, and markers all add up in cost even when purchased in the most cost-conscious manner that we can. Like Shoeboxes, every single monetary donation – large or small – makes a big difference to our ultimate success! Especially in years as this one has been, we treasure every consideration we are given.
Thank you to the individuals who chose to support us in this manner - Liane, Suzanne, Dona, and others through the CanadaHelps on-line donation website. We are very grateful!
With heartfelt appreciation we must also acknowledge the donation from the Headingly Fire Department. We again are a chosen recipient of the proceeds from their charity ‘Run For Wishes’ in the amount of $500.00! Last year we were graced by the Fire Department’s generosity and that left me speechless. To have a repeat of their expression of compassion this year was something that took my breath away. We are so profoundly grateful for this gracious gesture. Our sincerest thanks go to Deputy Chief First Responders Glen Reimer and to the participating firefighters and first responders of the Headingley Fire Department. Your caring and impacting contribution means more than you could know!
Another surprize monetary donation came to us after our campaign had concluded but will certainly be a great asset to us for Shoebox content items this coming year. We received $500.00 from the Cardon group of companies based in Calgary! This donation was inspired by a conversation that a friend of ‘our own’ Lori Houston’s had with her boss about our initiative! Thank you Liane and Filip for believing in what we do!
And to the very important cog in our wheel…our volunteer Shoebox ‘Family’! Where would we be without you? To the returning ‘seasoned’ volunteers who continue to see the good and importance in our initiative and who sign up year after year, and to the newest volunteers who are perhaps a year in or have just joined us for the first time in 2019, I am truly grateful and humbled by your support and commitment to our organization…”Thank You” so much! I am also very appreciative to the volunteers who were trying very hard to assist us only to have all of their scheduled checking session days cancelled. As I’ve mentioned before, please do not give up on us…we will do our best to get you working!
In years such as this one has been when we have experienced several challenges in reaching our partners’ ‘Wish List’ goals, you have been understanding and at the ready for service when needed.
For our volunteers who signed up for checking sessions, there was the gamut of having checking session cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances with Parish business or because of lower than usual volume of Shoebox donations, to then a pleas for expediency when we received over 500 donations in for checking and to be readied for delivery in the last 4 days of our campaign! Thank you for adjusting your valuable time to accommodate us and for answering the call to duty that even on occasion encroached into the evening – especially on Friday the 13th!
Our volunteers who were on pick-up and delivery duty experienced the same challenges when there was little to pick-up from our drop-off locations, to then having Shoebox donation numbers over 100 magically appearing overnight and waiting for pick-up! Some of you were able to handle these duties in tandem and others on your own…please know how very much you are all appreciated.
Please know your presence has meant everything! I can only hope that we will be graced by your participation again during the 2020 Drive campaign should desire and time allow you.
This has also been a year of spousal and family participation on both sides of our task lists…and it has been a treat to witness!
On the ‘outside’ - A big “Thank You” to husband and wife teams Terry and George, Lori and Don along with Manon and Scot for getting all of our pick-ups and deliveries accomplished regardless of the numbers and time frames. Laurel had young daughter Lillian – perhaps a future volunteer! - along for an assist in picking up and unloading Shoeboxes one day, and Allison had her Mum and Dad helping on a day with a tri-stop for pick-ups and unloading! Wendy and Kelly worked solo as representatives of our ‘Family’ carrying out their own pick-ups and deliveries! We are very grateful to all of you!
In the ‘inside’ – Another big “Thank you” to the following families! Louise who was joined by daughter Julie, sister Suzanne, and in daughter Carly’s absence, friend, Irene for attending checking sessions. Returning after a time away from volunteering with us was Kate who brought her Grandmother Jeanne, Mum Adriana, and sister, Kyla along for some first time fun! Jacqueline joined us once again this year rounding out the family attendance with Mum Paulette and Dad Joe! Despite cancellations and intense time frames, these families joined in with our other volunteers to make sure our Shoebox gifts were inspected and composed perfectly, making them a lovely offering of care and compassion for a woman in need of some cheer.
I’d also like to give a special “Thank you” to Kelly for not only her double duty of pick-ups and checking, but for her excellent gift-wrapping skills! On our very last evening to wrap up – no pun intended! - and vacate our staging area at St. Eugene Parish on Friday, December 13th, we experienced the intake of the most unwrapped Shoeboxes I have ever seen! There were so many! With an assist from Edna, Kelly took on the mission of wrapping the majority of each of these Shoeboxes so we could get them packed and ready for pick-up or delivery by the end of the night! And I do mean night…we were already well after 7:00 P.M.! How grateful we are, Kelly!
Without a doubt, Paulette and her husband Joe contributed in every way possible to this year’s Drive campaign! Paulette schedules our volunteers for checking sessions and accommodates whatever changes we may need to make sure we have the human resources we need to get our Shoeboxes inspected and ready for distribution. On top of this, she worked hard at sorting many of the in-kind items that are donated to us and then assisted me by filling boxes with miscellaneous ‘re-directs’ – items that cannot be placed in Shoebox gifts but are still useful for general use to our partners. This while juggling checking of Shoeboxes, donating much needed Shoebox items and Shoebox gifts themselves. In a snapshot, personally, I am very grateful for Paulette’s contributions and involvement with our Chapter. “Thank you” so much, Paulette!
Joe has also been an absolute assist this year with his willingness to undertake whatever has been asked of him. Whether picking-up Shoebox donations or packing cartons; constructing cartons and filling them; helping unload donations coming in to be checked, or loading shipments ready to be picked-up or delivered…you have been such a great assist to us and always with a willingness regardless of the task! We are very thankful for your time!
Please know all of you who believe in the work of The Shoebox Project for Women - mentioned above or not - along with the countless other supporters we have in our community who I do not know personally, are so important to what we can accomplish each year. Your every single gesture is meaningful and impacting to our mission, and it is my hope that you will feel as compassionate and as strongly about our initiative in the years to come.
“You” are what makes us tick…and encourages us to keep going!Thank you!
Until next year, my wish is that in 2020 your days that roll into weeks, that roll into months, be filled with Great Health, Much Happiness, and Peace of Mind. You have given not only us joy and hope, but to so many women who you will never know these very same gifts.
With wishes for a beautiful spring and summer to come, and please watch for our latest news come the fall!