Gift boxes support homeless, at risk women

Margy Parker, left, local coordinator of Sarnia’s Shoebox Project for Shelters, shows off one of the boxes she has put together, along with Angie Marks, director of services at the Women’s Interval Home in Sarnia. Tara Jeffrey

Tara Jeffrey

A small box of goodies can go a long way.

So says Margy Parker, who’s launching a Sarnia chapter of the Shoebox Project for Shelters, which collects and distributes gifts in the form of shoeboxes to women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“I saw it on the news one night and thought, ‘How can I help out?’” Parker said of the Toronto-born campaign launched in 2011, which has since delivered more than 24,000 gifts to women in 131 communities in Canada and the U.S.

“I found out that there wasn’t a chapter in Sarnia, so I filled out an application for our area, and here I am.”

As coordinator, Parker has been recruiting Sarnia-Lambton residents to help by filling a shoebox with items (valued at $50) that any woman is likely to enjoy, but may not splurge on herself in difficult times.

She hopes to make her first delivery to the Women’s Interval Home in time for Mother’s Day.

“Most women in difficult situations neglect themselves,” said Parker. “This is just something to make them feel special, and let them know they’re not alone.”

She’s encouraging participants to hold ‘shoebox parties’ where they can gather items and decorate the boxes.

Donations can include toiletries, makeup, candy, scarves, gift cards and more — and should include the most important element: a message, note or card of support.

“It screams, ‘We care about you,’” said Angie Marks, director of services at the Women’s Interval Home, who is thrilled about the partnership.

“We heard about the project in other communities, so when Marg called, I thought, this is so fabulous. The women are going to love it.”

Parker has launched a Facebook group that is gaining interest by the day, she said, noting she is hoping to expand the project to reach women across the county.

“People respond really well to something like this,” she said. “Our community is pretty amazing.”

 

For more information, including a list of specific items, visit www.shoeboxproject.com/sarnia or email sarnia@shoeboxproject.com.