Having reached its millionth child in 2020, South Africa’s best-loved children’s charity, the Santa Shoebox Project, is expanding its reach with the 2021 theme #beyondthemillion.
In addition to the traditional annual Santa Shoebox campaign, which remains the core initiative undertaken by the charity, the Santa Shoebox Legacy fund is making significant differences to the impoverished communities in which beneficiary children live.
This year, the Santa Shoebox Legacy sponsored the creation of reading hubs in 25 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs). In addition, funds raised by the initiative have covered anti-bullying training for the facility caregivers, who will also be receiving training in the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool and primary education.
This activation has been endorsed by Zolani Mahola, also known as ‘The One Who Sings’, who will be addressing the caregivers upon graduation. Zolani visited various pre-schools, in her capacity as storyteller and artist, read to the children and addressed the caregivers.
“The building blocks of a child’s development start here. The story of a healthy child starts right here, so for me to be supporting this project of the reading corners, of widening children’s reading worlds. I’m blessed to be here,” she says.
The Santa Shoebox Legacy has been accruing all private donations to the charity since 2017 up until the millionth shoebox was achieved in 2020. These funds are funnelled towards initiatives that address food security, income generation, education, infrastructure support, gender-based violence, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean electricity as well as climate action.
The Santa Shoebox Project has three initiatives under its umbrella:
- Traditional Santa Shoebox
Over the last 16 years, 1 017 741 Santa Shoeboxes have been given to underprivileged and socially vulnerable children throughout South Africa and Namibia. Santa Shoebox donors choose their beneficiary child/ren by name, age and gender and are given each child’s clothing size.
Each personalised shoebox reaches the very child for whom it was pledged. Using the Santa Shoebox app, donors are able to track their shoebox from the moment it is pledged to the magical moment it is handed to the child.
Every Santa Shoebox is required to contain eight specified items, chosen with the underprivileged child at heart. These items are a toothbrush, toothpaste, facecloth, soap, sweets, school supplies, a toy and an outfit of clothing – all new, unused and age-appropriate. Every shoebox is checked upon drop off to ensure compliance and to protect the safety of the children.
- Virtual Santa Shoebox
These shoeboxes are purchased online by donors. The generic Virtual Shoebox is available all year round, while the personalised Virtual Shoebox is made available from Mandela Day onwards each year. These shoeboxes meet the needs of donors who live too far from drop-off points and are delivered to children living in far-flung rural areas. Components are chosen by the donor on the Santa Shoebox website and the shoeboxes are packed by the Santa Shoebox Team. A Virtual Santa Shoebox contains the eight specified items, as well as additional items, such as a lunchbox and books. A Virtual Santa Shoebox costs R450 plus an optional delivery fee of R30.
- Santa Shoebox Legacy
All operating costs of the Santa Shoebox Project are covered by its main corporate sponsors. As part of the Project’s March to A Million drive, all privately donated funds over the past four years have been accruing under the Santa Shoebox Legacy fund. In 2020 a portion of these funds were allocated to COVID relief projects, enabling the project to support a number of other NPOs in reaching their UN Sustainable Development Goals such as hunger relief, food security, tackling gender-based violence, clean energy, and clean water and sanitation. In addition, a créche was built in the Loskop District of rural KwaZulu Natal.
For links to get involved, scan this QR code or visit the Santa Shoebox Project website: www.santashoebox.org.za/about-us/