• Tell us about the history of your Organisation

The Santa Shoebox Project originated in Cape Town in 2006 with a humble 180 shoeboxes. In 10 years it has grown in leaps and bounds, with the number of Santa Shoeboxes donated reaching a total of 652 180. The shoeboxes are distributed to more than 1000 recipient facilities, through more than 50 satellites around South Africa and Namibia.
The success of the Project can largely be attributed to its personal nature – donors give gifts to children whose names, ages and genders are known.

The project is supported by an extensive network of volunteers across South Africa and Namibia – kind-hearted people who give freely of their time, energy and expertise without remuneration. It also relies on the generous backing of various corporate sponsors pledging monetary or pro bono support. Many companies, involving their staff members pledge Santa Shoeboxes as part of their Corporate Social Investment programmes.

• Which three words best describe your Organisation?

Share (the) Joy (of) Giving

• If you could change only one thing about your Organisation, what would it be?

Fewer children in need of a Shoebox

• Describe what a typical work day looks like for you at your Organisation?

LOTS of Admin – emails, phone calls and meetings – happily with wonderful people, both within and outside of the Organisation, all of whom find joy and satisfaction in their engagements with the Project.

• What is the one thing you wish members of the general public knew about your Organisation?

How much work it takes to get it right each year. This is not “just” a Christmas initiative, it’s year-round and full-time. And of course how gratifying it is 🙂

• Describe the saddest moment you’ve experienced while at work in your Organisation

Oh dear :'( At a Celebration, the “party” at which the beneficiary children receive their Shoeboxes, I was told that the lovely young lady I’d been chatting to, who was intellectually impaired, had been sexually abused prior to being placed in a home of safety. Another sobering moment was realising that it’s always the soap, washcloth, toothbrush and toothpaste which are the most valued items in each Shoebox – not the toy and sweeties …

• Apart from donating money, how can members of the general public assist your Organisation?

They can volunteer their time!

• Describe the happiest moment you’ve experienced while at work in your Organisation

Goodness me … TOO many to mention! The sheer joy which bubbles over at Celebrations is “the happiest moment” every single time 🙂 The sullen and “cool” teenagers who become children again when opening their Shoeboxes – smiling, giggling, whooping with joy – causes my colleagues and I to ALL become infected with the same joy, time after time.

• If you could say only one thing to the Community your Organisation serves, what would that be?

Believe in yourself! Children are all created equal – equally powerful with equally endless potential to become great at whatever they choose to do.

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