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Why a Santa Shoebox is so much more than a box

Pledges for the annual Santa Shoebox Project opened on 1 September. And, this year marks the 10th birthday of an initiative that has become one of South Africa’s favourite ways to give over the festive season.

From a humble 180 shoeboxes donated in its first year, the Santa Shoebox Project has now notched up more than half a million thoughtful shoeboxes. These were donated to underprivileged children across South Africa and Namibia.


It’s because it is highly personalised. Prospective beneficiaries apply to the project in April each year. After 1 September, donors get to choose who they make a pledge to. We give them the child’s name, age and gender upfront to empower them to choose perfectly appropriate contents of their shoebox.  Also, that’s why it’s so important they fill all pledges. There’s always a child in anticipation of what Christmas might bring. Thus, an unfulfilled pledge is just like Santa failing to make good on the promise of the festive season. We encourage donors are to remember that a pledge is a promise.


There’s a specific balance of what every child wants and what underprivileged children particularly need. This has informed this year’s theme of ‘More Than Just a Shoebox’.   Always generous in spirit, some donors may want to fill the shoebox space with items more exciting than a soap and facecloth, toothpaste and a toothbrush; but the reality is these everyday gifts are vital under the circumstances.


The Santa Shoebox beneficiaries live in deep poverty. The means to achieve all-important general and dental hygiene are, most often, out of their parents’ or caregiver’s reach or awareness.  By including these everyday items in the Santa Shoebox, the donor helps to highlight how important it is for disease prevention that children are able to wash with soap and brush teeth daily.  In this context, these mundane items actually take pride of place in a Santa Shoebox. They raise important awareness of what is essential in child care. Compiling a box for a child in need can be a great way for parents to educate their children about those less fortunate than they are.

There’s also plenty of space in a Santa Shoebox to include the fun stuff.  The template for a Santa Shoebox also includes an age-appropriate toy. It also includes an outfit of clothing and a vital gift of stationery, as well as a sweet treat.  If all of this seems too much for an individual donor, it’s more than easy to get together as a family, a community group or a corporate team to complete one Santa Shoebox. This makes an extraordinary experience become real for a child. It’s not as important how the box gets filled as it is that a child gets a Santa Shoebox filled with what they need.

This year the Santa Shoebox Project aims to donate 100, 000 boxes to underprivileged children throughout the country

South Africa’s DIY celebrity, Suzelle, has also created a ‘How to make a Santa Shoebox’ video to create further awareness of the projects 10-year celebration. It also encourages donors to pledge and help to change a child’s life. Click here to enjoy.

Complementing the SSB 100 000, the SSB Pipeline will be offering donors the opportunity to purchase a Little Sun solar lamp. After charging for only 5 hours, provides more than 50 hours of light. Thus, ensuring more time to read, draw, play and do homework. Also, no more breathing harmful emissions from non-sustainable light sources. These will be available as and when individual Drop Offs become fully pledged.

Given that the Project’s main sponsors cover all operating costs of The Santa Shoebox Project, all other donations contribute towards the SSB Legacy. We use the funds are used for community upliftment projects. For 2016 and 2017, Santa Shoebox will be focusing on water, distributing Hippo Rollers to communities who don’t have the luxury of running water in their own homes.

To make a pledge go to www.santashoebox.org.za


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