About The Shoebox Project
About Making The Shoebox Project
About Volunteering

About The Shoebox Project

Are you affiliated with a church?
Nope! The Shoebox Project is a non-religious, unaffiliated charity, based on the values of equality, diversity and respect for all.
Aren’t you that charity that provides gifts to children overseas?
Nope! There are a few different charities that provide gifts in the form of Shoeboxes, however The Shoebox Project for Women distributes gifts locally. Ie. the gifts you donate are delivered to shelters and support agencies right in your own community! As well, our Shoeboxes are intended for women impacted by homelessness, not children.
Why don’t you provide gifts to men? Don’t they deserve to feel special too?
Of course they do! We operate under the basic principle that all people are deserving of basic human rights: shelter, safety, dignity and respect. However, as an organization, we have committed to addressing the unique challenges and vulnerabilities faced by women and girls, as well as individuals who identify as trans, intersex, non-binary, agender, and/or Two-Spirit.
Where will my Shoebox be delivered?
Our Shoeboxes are distributed to women who are homeless or at risk, including emergency shelters, shelters for victims of abuse, and a wide range of community support services such as drop-ins, transitional & supportive housing for women living with a variety of challenges.
Do you accept gifts year-round or only during the Holiday season?
In some locations we collect Shoeboxes for occasions like International Women’s Day or Mother’s Day, but most of our chapters only run gift drives during the holiday season. If you have an idea for an off-season initiative with your company, school or group of friends, we want to hear about it and will try our best to make it happen. Just contact us to discuss! You can also make a Virtual Shoebox anytime throughout the year.

About Making a Shoebox

Why are essentials like maxi pads, tampons, and hotel samples on the “do not include” list when shelters are in need of these items?
We like to think of a Shoebox as a very special gift for a woman. Although we recognize the importance of menstrual products, they take up a lot of space in a Shoebox and don’t always convey the message ‘you are special and loved!’. If you'd like to donate these items, please keep them separate from your Shoebox and we'll make sure they get delivered in bulk to a nearby women's shelter.
How do I wrap my Shoebox?
We recommend using a Shoebox with a removable lid instead of sport boxes with a lid that folds over as they're MUCH easier to wrap. Check out our handy tutorial on YouTube!
Should we individually wrap each item in our Shoebox?
Items should be placed unwrapped in your Shoebox, as the contents go through an inspection process before being delivered.
Can I use a boot box?
No. Boot boxes are not accepted as they are much bigger than the average shoebox and our aim is to create gift boxes that are equal in value.
Do I need to put tissue inside my box?
Please do! We find that a little tissue paper helps a Shoebox look beautiful and festive.
If I am including a gift card in my Shoebox, how much should it be for?
Any denomination is appreciated; however, we suggest £5 - £10. Please make sure the amount is indicated on the gift card.
Some of my gift items have the price imprinted on them. Should we cover the price with marker or stickers or leave it as is?
Yes, please remove all price tags or cover them with a marker, just as you would with a gift to a loved one.
For items like lip balm and hairbrushes, should we remove the packaging to make it easier to pack in the box?
If possible, keep items in their original packaging so that we know they are new and unused.
Do you accept donations of clothing?
Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to collect and donate articles of clothing to shelters. The only types of clothing we accept in our Shoeboxes are new, unused accessories like hats, scarves, gloves and socks. (And please no shoes!)
What should I write in my card?
Keep in mind that your Shoebox could be going to a woman of any economic or cultural background, religion, or age and that every woman's circumstances that led them to seek shelter are different. A simple note to wish her well and to let her know that you're thinking of her can go a long way for a woman in crisis. You can sign your first name or leave it anonymous.
Why does the value of my Shoebox have to be £35?
Although every gift we deliver is unique, we want to make sure that the quality and quantity of items is roughly the same for each woman receiving a Shoebox. If you aren't prepared to spend £35, it's a great activity to do with a friend. Do you have more than £35 in items that you'd like to contribute? Why not make two Shoeboxes?!

Volunteering FAQs

What is a Local Chapter?
A Local Chapter is essentially The Shoebox Project at the local level and its activities are run by local volunteers. When a volunteer starts a new Local Chapter or leads an existing Chapter they are organizing the activities of The Shoebox Project in their communities. The Shoebox Project provides Chapters with the resources and support needed to run the activities with success and offer the validity of a trusted national charity to help support it.
Who runs a Local Chapter?
Volunteers! ALL of our Chapters are 100% run by volunteers including the Local Chapter management. Those looking for a leadership role may apply to start a New Local Chapter in their community or help us by running an existing Local Chapter where there may be a vacancy.
What is the difference between starting a new Local Chapter and leading an established Chapter?
When you Start a new Local Chapter, that means there has not been a Chapter in this location before. This is a great way to make it your own! When you are leading an established Local Chapter, this means there has previously been a Chapter in this location, but we no longer have a Local Coordinator in place to run it. When you lead an existing chapter you will have the advantage of having the history of that Chapter's activities to help you get started!
Can anyone start a new Local Chapter/Lead an established Local Chapter?
Anyone who feels they meet the qualifications are welcome to apply for the role. This is ultimately a volunteer leadership position so we are looking for mature individuals who have previous volunteer and leadership experience. Individuals with existing community ties and a desire to lead other volunteers will have an advantage. This role involves us getting to know the individual applicant to ensure that it is a good fit for both sides and following our screening requirements before an individual is invited as a Local Chapter Coordinator. We want to ensure every individual is set up for success and expectations are clear in this highly rewarding role!
Do I have to pay anything to start a local chapter?
No! Bringing The Shoebox Project to your community doesn’t cost a dime and we’ll provide you with some funds to get your Chapter started to help cover expenses in its first year as well as offer you resources to help you in your community outreach efforts.
Why don’t I see my location/community listed?
This means no one has stepped up to bring a Local Chapter to your community yet. Why not be that person and start supporting local women in your community this year? We’d love to explore this opportunity with you!
Why don’t I see any volunteer roles listed with my chapter?
Volunteer roles are based on each Chapter’s current and individual needs. If you don’t see roles listed on their webpage on our website, this means they are not needing volunteer support for this role at the moment. This may fluctuate depending on the time of year and various activities the Chapter is involved in. If you want to inquire about something specific that you think you can offer them as a volunteer, we encourage you to reach out to the Local Coordinator via their email address provided on their Chapter’s webpage and discuss your ideas with them!
How do I find out if there is already a Local Chapter in my community?
Click the ‘Local Chapters’ tab at the top of our website to see a full list of established Chapters that are active across the UK.
Can I volunteer if my community doesn’t have a Local Chapter?
Without a Chapter, there will not be volunteer opportunities. Consider starting a New Local Chapter in your community to provide others this opportunity!
Can I volunteer right away?
Volunteering is based on the needs of the Local Chapter in your community. A majority of the volunteer activity is required during the holiday period October-December when traditionally our largest Shoebox drive occurs. This may fluctuate depending on when your Local Chapter is running their local Shoebox drive, when their deadlines are and other activities they may be organizing during a given period of time. This may fluctuate from year to year and drive to drive. You can contact them directly to ask about current needs.
I’m looking for a volunteer role with a regularly occurring shift. Is this the right opportunity?
It may not be! Our Local Chapter activities tend to fluctuate during the year and from season to season. While our Chapters try their best to offer scheduling that works for you, Shoebox giving season can change rapidly. It’s an exciting time to be involved but if you are looking for a regular and steady opportunity, you may want to discuss this more with your Local Chapter Coordinator before considering an opportunity with them.
If I’m a volunteer, do I hand out Shoebox gifts to individual recipients?
No. Our Chapters work directly through local registered shelters and agencies who are supporting women and gender-diverse individuals accessing their services. We typically only work with shelter staff and we never ask or permit our volunteers to work one-on-one with individual recipients.
I’m under 15, can I volunteer?
Yes, of course! Our young volunteers are extremely compassionate and love helping with important tasks. Our most popular activity for our volunteers under 15 is creating handwritten cards and messages to our Shoebox recipients that are added to our gifts, and of course putting together Shoebox gifts of their own. This is always under the supervision of a parent/guardian and most youth love doing this as an activity with family & friends! These Shoeboxes will then be dropped off at one of the Local Chapter’s drop off locations if they are running a current Shoebox Drive in your community or by contacting your Local Chapter to ask about current needs. Alternatively, we love having schools involved in organizing a Shoebox gift drive as a group activity and this may qualify for mandatory volunteer service hours if your school permits.
Do I have to complete the volunteer application?
Yes please! Our volunteer screening process only takes about 10 minutes to complete and helps build and maintain the integrity of a strong volunteer program. Our application procedure works to ensure the safety of our hundreds of volunteers that work across the country and helps keep it all standardized and organized. As well, all volunteers have a right to know about our organizational policies, standards and code of conduct, and we have an obligation to provide that information to them. Our volunteer screening practices enable us to provide this to every volunteer.
How do you screen your volunteers?
We screen our volunteers depending on the position they have applied for. This ensures that each volunteer is treated equitably and screened based on the position and not the individual. If the position is a role with greater responsibility, additional screening may be involved such as a reference check. Screening requirements for each position are included on the position description that will be provided to you at the time of application so there are no surprises. All screenings are conducted with strict confidentiality.
Can I volunteer if I have to complete mandatory community service hours?
Depending on the service hours, deadlines for completion and criteria of the hours needed, individuals, including students may qualify to volunteer for certain roles. These individuals may contact the Manager of Volunteer Services to discuss their specific requirements ahead of time, however this question is also asked on the general volunteer application form and we will reach out to you to discuss your individual needs. This may also depend on the time of year and if there is any activity happening at the local level that fits your needs and timing. 
Can I volunteer if I have previously been charged or convicted of an offence or facing a current charge?
Depending on the charge/conviction, you may qualify for some volunteer roles. This is determined on a case by case basis and will involve a one on one interview with the Manager of Volunteer Services to determine the degree of risk involved in the volunteer activity applied for. All cases are kept with the strictest confidence to ensure our volunteer’s privacy is protected. This question is asked on the general volunteer application form. Those who do not divulge this at the time of application will not be provided with a confirmation of volunteer hours completed should it be needed.
Can I volunteer with family and friends?
That’s the best way! Many of our Local Chapters start out small and get a lot of volunteer help from family and friends at the start. This is a great way to be involved with those closest to you in something that is important to you. Before you know it, the trickle down effect occurs and you will have a whole community wanting to help! If you are interested in volunteering with other members, contact your Local Chapter to see where you can best help and how many people they may need to assist.
Can I volunteer to help deliver Shoebox gifts to shelters?
Absolutely! This is a much needed volunteer opportunity for most Chapters big or small. Keep in mind, most, if not all, of our deliveries occur during the weekdays/during the daytime when shelters can receive our gifts. In order to qualify for this role, you must be able to provide proof of a current and valid driver's license in your province, as well as automobile insurance and have your own vehicle/means of transportation. You must also follow our Use of Motor Vehicle Policy provided.
As a Driver, do I get reimbursed for mileage?
If you choose to and your Local Chapter has sufficient funds to offer it, you may submit your mileage totals for trips you have made on their behalf and get reimbursed for the deliveries made to shelters/agencies. If you are concerned, ask your Local Coordinator ahead of time if this is something that their Chapter can provide.
Can I get a letter to confirm the number of volunteer hours I have completed?
The Shoebox Project cannot confirm individual hours of volunteers at the local level. If your Local Chapter Coordinator can verify your volunteer hours and is comfortable providing this to you, they may use the template provided to them that states the dates of volunteer hours were completed, activity that was provided and total hours that were confirmed. Local chapters are under no obligation to provide this verification if they cannot confirm these volunteer hours were completed.
Can I get a reference letter/ask you to be a reference for employment?
Head office is happy to provide  a letter of reference to our Local Chapter Coordinators and the Administrative Volunteers we work with directly after an appropriate period of time should we feel comfortable in doing so.  The Shoebox Project head office is not able to provide this to individual support volunteers as we do not work directly with these volunteers and cannot speak to the individuals daily work practices. If a Local Chapter Coordinator has worked directly with you and is comfortable with providing this courtesy, they may provide you with a letter of reference if they wish but are under no obligation to provide this to volunteers.