2020 Holiday Gift Campaign - Results and Wrap-Up Letter
It is an official wrap for our 2020 Holiday Shoebox Gift campaign. Well…actually for us it was a ‘wrap’ in Santa hats, festive gift bags and zip top baggies! We will never let a menace like COVID-19 get in our way of adding a wee bit of festivity and sparkle!
For our final update for 2020, we invite you to please get comfortable and have a read at what transpired during this challenging, complicated, and unusual campaign! We have much news to share and many “thank you”s to convey.
In a year of such sadness and many challenges for so many, our volunteers, community donors and supporters have once again generously given of their caring hearts and valuable time to ensure that 185 women in our communities across Manitoba facing seemingly unsurmountable situations would feel love and belonging this holiday season.
Having to exercise one of the most used words in the English language this year - ‘pivot’ – the Shoebox Project HQ team did that brilliantly with the introduction of a virtual campaign that was welcomed by many donors. We know that a great joy for our donors is the opportunity to personally shop for and compose a physical Shoebox gift for women during the holidays. This activity was put on hold this year due to COVID-19 cautions and restrictions. Having an outlet to still engage personally in your choices for gift contents was a key component of the virtual ‘Shoebox’ with the final tally amount of your selected products resulting in a tangible donation for your chosen chapter.
Between direct financial donations, in-kind gift card donations, and proceeds from virtual ‘Shoebox’ compositions, our Manitoba chapter benefited from your engagement for a total of $11,415.00! Individuals donated $8,970.00 and corporate donations secured $2,445.00 for our endeavour! To say we are overwhelmed with gratitude would be an understatement. Our chapter has never seen the likes of this level of direct financial donations. Of course, the approximated value of physical Shoebox donations far surpasses this amount in a ‘usual’ campaign year; but in 2020, a year of such hardship for so many of our community members facing their own specific financial struggles and uncertainties…we are so deeply grateful for this show of support. In truth it is unimaginable!
Going into this year’s campaign, we knew we would be hard pressed to support all of our partner agencies and organizations as in past years. The decision to go back to our organization’s founding mandate - serving women residing in emergency shelters and second stage housing units during the holidays – was revived by our Headquarter’s Board. Such a bittersweet situation, but a necessary one if we were to meet any goal.
Your gracious acts of generosity made sure we provided gift cards for each woman valued at $50.00 for stores that were sure to provide easy access to and offer a variety of food and personal need items. With permission from the Executive Directors, we were allowed to add in some other much needed and welcomed gifts. Inside each Santa hat, gift bag or holiday-themed zip-top baggie – all with a flourish of sparkle, sequin, or metallic tissue paper I might add! This elf was not going to be undone by a ‘grinch virus’! – were the gift card(s), 2 high-quality non-emergency reusable face masks, a journal w/pencil and sharpener, a bar of chocolate and a hand-written greeting card especially for the recipient. In addition, we were able to send some much-needed hand-knitted neck warmers, scarves, and hats to 3 of our most northerly shelters.
To achieve all we have accomplished this year, we have many people to acknowledge and give thanks to. Starting of course with our dedicated and supportive donors – individual and corporate - we are nowhere without you! I recognize many of the names on our donor list and there are many I do not. I will be personally thanking those of you that I can and for the others I do not recognize, please know our gratitude is equally felt. All of you have impacted the lives of women navigating life with immense challenges and have given us the honour of facilitating the delivery of your gifts wrapped in compassion and caring. Corporate supporters like Dillon Consulting who jumped on the Shoebox Project train as early as September with a financial contribution and in-kind donations of gift cards; Chemo Savvy Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Team members who uphold our endeavours and support us every year; Several Best Buy locations graciously contributed to our effort; the Centre for Health Care Innovation showed their caring support with a monetary donation, Artis REIT got in on the fun and contributed a most welcome donation by engaging the virtual ‘Shoebox’ experience, and BASF generously supported our efforts as well with a wonderful donation. “Thank you” to these organizations and others unnamed for showing us that you believe in what the Shoebox Project stands for and proves that the beneficence of ‘big business’ absolutely ‘sees’ us…we are so grateful, please never doubt that. Individual donors showed their support overwhelmingly for the women we strive to serve. Many of the donors were our own volunteers who in past years would have been right in the midst of excitement our annual campaign always brings. I know many of you have been missing our activities and please know I have missed all of you too! Many of our donors have familiar names to me and many do not. I have been delighted to have the correspondence from many who have shared with me that in years past have contributed a physical Shoebox gift but have always remained anonymous to us! Our individual donors number near 100 and I would never risk leaving someone out from a mention, so I will respectfully decline an individual listing here. But for your generosity and loving hearts, we are indebted…please know how meaningful it is to us and to the women your generosity is intended for. A must though is a very special “Thank You” to volunteers, Pam, Mary, Jeanne, Adriana, Kate, and Kyla for writing out literally boxes of greeting cards all the while for some, making face masks and donating gift cards as well. Your valuable time and contributions have made this a special year indeed. As a double treat, we will have personalized cards to include in next year’s Shoebox gifts that may arrive sans one. Such a special and an important inclusion, these messages are!
A heart-felt “Thank you” to Penny for the lovely assortment of hand-knitted items to keep a body warm. Penny started knitting long before we knew how the restrictions would impact us and not being sure if we could deliver them this year made hearts heavy after all of Penny’s efforts. How happy we were to know we had permission to send the goods to our northern partner shelters where they were welcomed with joy! Of course, ‘getting the word’ out this year took on a whole other meaning! Sadly, but understandably, we could not have any promotions through most of our faithful drop-off locations this year which provides much of our campaign news to our community members. Messaging via email and social media were engaged; posters were put up in many grocery store locations where we knew people would not be restricted from going to; articles were published in some independent weeklies and plans for some TV and radio spots fell through due to time-slot changes and/or technology issues! (This is 2020 after all!) Reporter Simon Fuller and Canstar News came through for us again this year with a wonderful front-page cover story! How lucky we are! “Thank you, Simon and Canstar”! We know this has been an unprecedented year across the board for nearly everyone and we are very grateful for the efforts put forth by every individual and organization who helped promote our efforts. Getting the deliveries to our partners is always a big undertaking and this year was no exception, just on a smaller scale. Because we had to depend first on the donations that came in and when they came in before we could organize gifts for the women, we could not plan out a determined shipping schedule. This year we relied on Canada Post due to scurried shopping trips and organized packaging. The Crown corporation did a fabulous job of getting our deliveries completed in spectacular time to our northern partners! For our rural deliveries we had the support once more of Birkett Freight Solutions. Every year since the founding of our chapter, Neil Birkett has personally delivered to several of our rural partners and this year was no exception. Right up until the end of the week before Christmas, Neil delivered your gifts to make sure that many women would have a gift of love to open during her special holiday, whatever that celebration may have been rooted in. Our gratitude to Canada Post and a very heart-felt “Thank you” to Neil! We do not take your act of kindness for granted. And so, this concludes the news that inspired us, encouraged us, and gave us hope during these menacing days that 2020 will ultimately be remembered for. Your love and support have shone a bright light for 185 deserving women this holiday season – and beyond, and we could not be more honoured and privileged to be a part of it. “Thank you” for being a part of The Shoebox Project ‘Family’! “Cheers” to all of YOU, and to a New Year that is filled with Good Health and Brighter Days Ahead!