This holiday season we decided to give back by sharing the gift of what we do best: natural skincare. We have partnered with Verunka Vlkova-Fierro, one of the NYC coordinators for the The Shoebox Project for Shelters. For every purchase made December 8th through December 22nd, we will be donating a product to the project.
What is The Shoebox Project for Shelters and why did we choose to donate to them? It is a 501(c)(3) public charity that collects and distributes gifts in the form of Shoeboxes to women who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in communities across the US and Canada. Each thoughtfully created and decorated Shoebox is filled with items valued at $50 that can help enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation for women in crisis.
To really understand why we chose this non-profit, we thought we would let Verunka herself tell you about the project.
Verunka, can you tell us about what inspired you to start NYC chapter of The Shoebox project?
It was 2015 and my mom had just passed away. I was trying to process her death and thinking a lot about our life together.
I grew up rather poor. There were some good years, but it seems like there were a lot of hard ones too. I remember when our neighbor ran an extension cord to our house for a while so we could plug in a lamp to do our homework at night. When you’re young you know it’s not normal, but my mom did her best to make us feel normal. When she died, suddenly those old stories are the ones I remembered the best.
One of the best memories was when the Salvation Army would drop off food and toys for the Holidays. Nothing helps a child feel normal like a present under the tree. But as I looked back as an adult I realized the one person it was probably hardest for was my mom. She gave us food before herself and they never put any presents for her in those drop offs.
The Shoebox Project is actually a Canadian charity started in 2011. The first city in the USA was SF in 2014, NYC was the second in 2015. When we started the NYC Chapter in 2015, I was feeling all these emotions after my mom’s passing and when I stumbled on Shoebox Project on YouTube I knew I needed to bring this project to NYC.
In a few words, can you tell us about the goal of The Shoebox project?
I think the goal is make sure that women feel remembered and cared for during the Holidays. We want each Shoebox we deliver to feel like a gift from a friend who believes in her and wants her to succeed.
Many of these women have escaped abusive relationships and are living in dire situations with their children. Their confidence is shattered. A Shoebox is this little luxurious, precious gift that lets them know they aren’t alone and most important: helps them feel normal for a bit.
Can you share a story about a person who the project has helped or about the kind of feedback you get from the women who receive the boxes?
Yes! This year we threw an amazing party at one of the shelters. I got the chance to hear some wonderful stories from women who had received a Shoebox in previous years.
To show how meaningful a Shoebox can be one woman told me that she held onto it so long that her daughter had re-wrapped it to use as a Mother’s Day gift! These truly are treasured possessions for them.
How can people donate to and support?
There are several ways to get involved:
The easiest is to complete your own Shoebox and drop it off at one of our collections sites. Don’t forget to include a letter saying something nice and supportive!
If you can’t make a full Shoebox ($50 worth of items), just drop off loose, unused items and we’ll be sure they get used to fill out more Shoeboxes. See our site for the kinds of items we need.
If you want to do more, start a mini-drive with your friends or colleagues. It’s easy and is a great activity to do together. Send us an email if you’re interested. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Finally, we’re 100% volunteer driven but we do have some costs for throwing parties at shelters and just getting so many boxes around the city. If you want to help us financially you can donate here , make sure to specify it is supposed to go to the NYC Chapter.