The Santa Shoebox Project is one of those that really gets to the heart of giving – they are not only asking for money or donations but rather that you take time and care in putting a shoebox full of things together for a specific child.

The idea is that you register on their website to provide a shoebox for a child you have chosen from a list. You are given their name, age and gender and emailed a personalised label. Then the fun begins as you fill the box with a toothbrush and toothpaste, a facecloth and soap, an outfit of clothing, some educational supplies, sweets and a toy. You may add extra bits as well and include a personalised note or card. The boxes are often kept as keepsake boxes by the children and, so, they ask for you to decorate them rather than just wrapping them in Christmas paper. Each box has to be dropped at a particular drop off point, which in Durban, include Grace Family Church in Umhlanga, the Durban Jewish Club in town and the Pinetown Baptist Church.

I feel that this is one of the most worthwhile charity projects around and I can’t wait to get started on putting my boxes together. I was really touched by a note on the website which points out that it is the teenagers who are picked last and therefore my boxes are all going to teens this year. Having spent years teaching and counselling teens they hold a special place in my heart. It’s definitely going to be more of a challenge than packing a box for a little one but I hope that it will also make it that much more worthwhile.

Santa’s Shoebox is hoping to have a box for almost 100 000 children in 2012.This is the current situation:

As you can see, the project has only achieved a third of the pledges required so far.

For more information and, hopefully, to sign up to pack some boxes of your own, visit http://www.santashoebox.co.za Hurry, though, as boxes must be dropped off towards the end of October.