Thousands of children across South Africa will again feel the magic of Christmas this year, thanks to the Santa Shoebox Project and the red Ford Transit that is helping deliver these gifts to underprivileged communities, spreading joy wherever it goes.
Since starting out in Cape Town in 2006 with just 180 shoeboxes, Santa Shoebox has established itself as one of the leading NPOs in the country. It has now reached a total donation of 1 077 289 shoeboxes – with the #beyondthemillion campaign active throughout 2021.
The project relies on the efforts of those more fortunate to make sure that, between October and December, tens of thousands of underprivileged children have some festive cheer to look forward to. For these disadvantaged children opening a gift that includes even just the basic essentials is enough to instantly bring a smile to their faces.
Up to 200 neatly packed and personalised shoeboxes are loaded in the Ford Transit at a time and driven on a tight schedule daily. This year was no exception, the Ford sleigh covered over 6000 kilometres in three months, with hundreds of beneficiary facilities around Gauteng, North West and the Free State receiving these prized shoeboxes.
To ensure every donation holds its own unique story, each Santa Shoebox is tracked by the Santa Shoebox app – available on Apple and Android. Through the app, each donor can watch the steps of this magical journey unfold as the shoeboxes travel around the country and are received by the very children for whom they were pledged.
Santa Shoebox has achieved this phenomenal #beyondthemillion effort thanks to a network of volunteers and corporate sponsors. This year the project encourages everyone to get involved, to help overcome the latest effects of COVID-19 which has collapsed many vital employment opportunities, has put additional strain on families, and has impacted on the work of most NPOs and charity organisations.
“Ford South Africa is once again proud to be involved with the Santa Shoebox Project and help turn each interaction with the children into an unforgettable moment in the true Christmas spirit of giving,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa. “Built with a unique combination of practicality, economy and reliability, the Ford Transit is the perfect vehicle to handle the responsibility of transporting these precious shoeboxes far and wide, while bringing joy and happiness to all. Helping to deliver #beyondthemillion is a truly rewarding and humbling experience,” says Mashinini.
The success of the Santa Shoebox Project can largely be attributed to its personal nature: donors give gifts of essential items and treats to children whose names, ages and genders are known. The minimum eight required items are a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, one wash cloth, sweets, a toy, school supplies and an outfit of clothing – all new and age-appropriate.
The only criteria for those who want to include an extra item is that it must fit in a normal-sized shoebox. Once all items are neatly packed, it’s time to decorate! Reach for the wrapping paper, bows and ribbons and make a shoebox that would not look out of place under any Christmas tree in the world.
“There are always new challenges thrown our way but our continued growth relies on Ford’s commitment to the Santa Shoebox Project. With this vehicle we can make the most use of our time on the road and broaden the areas that we’re able to cover,” says Margie Kostelac, the Santa Shoebox Project’s Regional Manager in Gauteng. “For the children, the sight of the Ford Transit represents the start of Christmas and we are fortunate to make a positive difference in their lives. Year on year, this vehicle rises to the occasion and motivates our entire team to set their goals even higher and we feel honoured every time the children start singing and dancing around us.”
To prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 the packing of each shoebox needs to be managed sensibly, with regular sanitising of hands and with a face mask on at all times. It is advised that this should be done a minimum of three days prior to dropping the shoeboxes off.
If you’re unable to do your own shopping, packing and drop off, a team of volunteers will be happy to do it for you with the convenient Virtual Santa Shoeboxes. These Virtual Santa Shoeboxes are packaged and distributed in exactly the same way and are so valuable in helping Santa Shoebox reach #beyondthemillion . Visit www.santashoebox.org.za to see how easy it is to start a pledge and bring a little Christmas spirit to a child who needs it most.