7 Simple Steps to Shoebox Success

It's easy to turn an empty Shoebox into a beautiful gift!

Shoebox gifts are collected by our volunteers across the country during the holiday season as well as for special occasions and events. We ask donors to fill a standard-sized, decorated Shoebox with approximately $50 worth of gifts and essentials that any woman might enjoy, and include a warm greeting or message of support. Our volunteers distribute these gifts to local women’s shelters and community agencies serving women impacted by homelessness in your community.

1. Find a Drop-Off Location

Before you start, see if there is a local chapter near you accepting Shoebox donations. Some chapters may only be accepting a Virtual Shoebox or monetary donation this holiday season.

Find a Location

2. Find an Empty Shoebox or Gift Box

  • Please use standard-sized Shoeboxes, not oversized boot boxes or child-sized boxes. We want everyone to receive a gift similar in size and value.

  • Don’t have enough empty Shoeboxes lying around?  Consider picking up decorative boxes from a dollar store or craft store.

Empty shoebox

3. Decorate Your Empty Shoebox

  • Please wrap the top and bottom of the Shoebox separately. If you have trouble, watch a tutorial.

  • Use good quality paper and avoid using bows and intricate ribbon, as boxes are usually stacked on top of one another and undergo some degree of wear and tear during transport.

  • Consider lining the Shoeboxes with tissue paper for a more polished, elegant look.

Tip: Shoeboxes that come in two-pieces are much easier to wrap than the one-piece boxes with lids that fold over.

Hands taping wrapping paper to a Shoebox

4. Fill Your Shoebox

  • Each Shoebox must be valued at approximately $50.

  • Don’t overstuff your box; make sure the lid fits on properly and doesn’t pop off.

  • Avoid including items that are overly delicate to avoid anything getting broken in transit.

​Tip: The high quality of our gifts is an important element that sets The Shoebox Project apart from other donations the shelters receive throughout the year. Select only items that you would like to receive as a gift or items that you might purchase for your mother or a close friend!

Shoebox decorated and filled with various gifts

Suggested items to incude:

  • Gift cards (for groceries, coffee shop, movies, drug store, fast food). Please write the amount on the card or include the receipt.

  • Cozy accessories: socks, mitts, scarf, hat, hand warmers

  • Helpful items for warmer months: sunscreen, reusable water bottle

  • Something sweet: nut-free chocolate and candy (not alcohol-filled)

  • Cough drops, multivitamins

  • Body or hand lotion, soaps, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

  • Brush, comb, shampoo, conditioner

  • Nail polish, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, lip balm

  • Purse-sized Kleenex, small cosmetic bag

  • Shower shoes, soap & toothbrush holder

  • Journals, colouring books, pens, coloured pencils

Please do NOT include:

  • Used goods and hotel samples are not the type of items to make someone feel special and loved

  • Sized clothing (i.e. S, M, L, XL) should not be included because beautiful women come in all different sizes

  • Mouthwash or hand-sanitizers containing alcohol

  • Bubble bath or bath bombs, as most shelters do not have bathtubs

  • Candles

  • Foundations or concealers should not be included because each person has a unique skin tone

  • Razors

  • Jumbo-sized containers

  • Books

  • Feminine hygiene products

  • Anything opened or not packaged

5. Write an Inspirational Message

Women who receive a gift from The Shoebox Project are touched by the effort that goes into decorating the Shoebox as well as the special cards, messages, and poems contained inside. Get creative and have fun!

Tip: Check our Instagram or Facebook for inspiration!

Reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness faced by women impacted by homelessness is one of the most important outcomes of The Shoebox Project.  Women who are experiencing homelessness or living in unstable or unsafe conditions often report feeling disconnected from their community, invisible and alone.  A Shoebox gift not only contains essentials and gifts that are much appreciated by the women we serve, but it’s also a rare gesture of kindness from one community member to another, and serves as a powerful reminder for a woman that she is seen, valued and cared for.

Hands writing a supportive card

6. Drop It Off

For physical Shoebox donations, please check your local chapter's page for drop-off details.  Make sure to find out if there is a deadline!

We are often working around holiday parties and some occur in early to mid-December.

Please note that we do not issue charitable tax receipts for donations of Shoebox gifts.

Tip: If you plan to drop off more than 10 Shoeboxes at a time, please contact your Local Coordinator for assistance.

Reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness faced by women impacted by homelessness is one of the most important outcomes of The Shoebox Project.  Women who are experiencing homelessness or living in unstable or unsafe conditions often report feeling disconnected from their community, invisible and alone.  A Shoebox gift not only contains essentials and gifts that are much appreciated by the women we serve, but it’s also a rare gesture of kindness from one community member to another, and serves as a powerful reminder for a woman that she is seen, valued and cared for.

Person holding a stack of Shoebox gifts

7. Don't Forget to Share!

It's fun to share photos of your Shoebox on social media. Remember to use the hashtag #ShoeboxProject!

Reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness faced by women impacted by homelessness is one of the most important outcomes of The Shoebox Project.  Women who are experiencing homelessness or living in unstable or unsafe conditions often report feeling disconnected from their community, invisible and alone.  A Shoebox gift not only contains essentials and gifts that are much appreciated by the women we serve, but it’s also a rare gesture of kindness from one community member to another, and serves as a powerful reminder for a woman that she is seen, valued and cared for.

Woman taking a selfie with two women behind her holding a Shoebox gift

Or, Create a Virtual Shoebox

If your local chapter isn't accepting physical Shoeboxes this holiday season, or you want to give a Shoebox gift during the rest of the year, we are also accepting Virtual Shoeboxes. You can create these from the comfort of your home all year long!

Create a Virtual Shoebox

Reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness faced by women impacted by homelessness is one of the most important outcomes of The Shoebox Project.  Women who are experiencing homelessness or living in unstable or unsafe conditions often report feeling disconnected from their community, invisible and alone.  A Shoebox gift not only contains essentials and gifts that are much appreciated by the women we serve, but it’s also a rare gesture of kindness from one community member to another, and serves as a powerful reminder for a woman that she is seen, valued and cared for.

Hands on a keyboard. Photo by Daniel Thomas.