In 2011, The Shoebox Project for Women was founded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, by four sisters-in-law: Jessica, Caroline, Vanessa and Katy. The family had noticed there were many opportunities to provide gifts to children experiencing homelessness during the holiday season, but there were no such gift drives for their mothers.
Wanting to make the holiday season a little brighter for some local women in their community, they decided to ask friends and acquaintances to fill a Shoebox with thoughtful yet essential gifts – some little luxuries that would bring a smile to any woman's face.
That first holiday season, their goal was to collect 156 Shoeboxes; just enough to serve the women living at one Toronto family shelter. By word of mouth and the power of social media, they ended up receiving 400 Shoeboxes that year - enough gifts for women accessing four local shelters. Donors also started spontaneously including notes of support and encouragement in their Shoeboxes, which were especially appreciated by their recipients. The sisters quickly realized that their modest little "Shoebox Project" had legs, and a national movement was officially born.