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Santa Shoebox Reaches Their One Millionth Child

  • 4 min read

As the year winds down, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet has identified an opportunity to support two non-profit organisations (NPOs) registered as beneficiaries of the community loyalty programme. Building on a two-year collaboration to deliver books to underprivileged children across South Africa, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and Book Dash will partner with the Santa Shoebox Project to gift 100 000 books to children who receive Santa Shoeboxes this year. 

This collaboration comes at a time when many children living in under-resourced communities have even less than usual access to reading materials, due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This year also marks momentous milestones for both the Santa Shoebox Project and Book Dash, with the organisations each distributing their one millionth Santa Shoebox and book, respectively.

“Education has been a cornerstone of our programme since its inception. We are extremely proud to be able to provide educational and recreational books of the highest quality to these young children through this collaborative effort,” says Pieter Twine, General Manager of MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet.

“The opportunity to support both Book Dash and the Santa Shoebox Project has enabled synergy between the three organisations, whose objectives are perfectly aligned.”

Book Dash’s innovative model presents partner organisations with the opportunity to fund a Book Dash event – a 12-hour sprint that sees volunteer creative teams write, illustrate, design and edit books at no cost. Research has established that owning and having books in the home is a high-impact, cost-effective and immediate way to give children a tangible and measurable advantage at school, and in life.

“Owning and loving books even before school starts develops key developmental skills and gives children an essential and lasting head start in life. Book Dash is thrilled that this partnership means that many thousands of children each year receive what is very likely their first books. For us as a social impact publisher, it’s a huge honour that this will also mark our one millionth book we’ve given to a child to own since we began in 2014,” says Julia Norrish, Book Dash Executive Director. 

Through a process of careful vetting, the Santa Shoebox Project signs up organisations that care for underprivileged children to receive Santa Shoeboxes for the children in their care. In addition to the books sponsored by MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and Book Dash, each bespoke Santa Shoebox includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, washcloth and soap, school stationery, a toy, sweets and an outfit of clothing, thereby catering for several aspects of a child’s well-being. 

“With the Santa Shoebox Project also reaching its millionth child, the synergy with Book Dash has created magic in 2020! Thanks to the support of MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, together the two organisations are ensuring far-reaching access to quality reading matter for profoundly underprivileged and socially vulnerable children in South Africa,”  says Deborah Zelezniak, CEO of the Santa Shoebox Project. 

“A Santa Shoebox is much more than simply a gift of treats for the festive season. The stationery sets the child up for the school year ahead, the outfit of clothing relieves the financial load on the parents, and the hygiene items instil a sense of pride in children who very often do not have any access at all to these items, never mind their very own toothbrush and washcloth. Sweets and a toy? These are children after all!”

Each of the 100 000 books will be branded with the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet logo and will be distributed inside Santa Shoeboxes during November and December 2020.

“We wish to thank our loyal supporters and encourage them to continue swiping their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cards each time they shop to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most,” concludes Twine.

To join MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and support Book Dash, the Santa Shoebox Project and other causes, visit or download the app. Every time you swipe your card at a partner retail store, which includes Woolworths,, Bidvest Waltons, Builders and more, a donation will be made to a cause of your choice – at no cost to you.