Last year, Katr got us involved in the Shoebox Program for Shelters - an awesome program where people like you put together a shoebox of little luxuries (cosmetics, skin care, chocolates, coffee gift cards) for ladies who are spending their holidays in shelters.
Each box should have an approximate value of $50 - here's an example of the box Katr put together this year.
Our house was one of the drop-off points here in Vancouver and last year (the first year here in Vancouver), we had over two hundred and fifty shoeboxes donated by super lovely people!!!
We're a drop-off point again this year and Katr has written a lovely post about the project.
My post is slightly less lovely. I was going to blog about this last year but I was too furious and thought I should wait until I calmed down. As it turns out, I'm still kind of furious about it, so get ready.
Last year, we got a lot of truly beautiful shoeboxes - well thought out, well provisioned, well decorated. People went to a lot of trouble to create a special gift for someone having a rough time over the holidays and it was really touching.
And we also got some...other boxes.
We generally peeked at each box when it was dropped off last year and at first glance, they all looked fairly decent. A couple of days before they were getting picked up to be shipped off to the shelters, I thought "Hey, we'd better go through these and make sure all these ladies will be getting boxes of around the same value!"
Thus began two long days - two ENTIRE days - of me standing at our kitchen island, opening boxes, yelling "HELL NO!" when I found undesirable things and throwing those items into the trash. Some of those items included:
- Bag of expired rice cakes (did you know rice cakes expire? Me neither!)
- Box of expired Lipton dry soup mix
- Half empty bottle of Red Door by Elizabeth Arden in a ziploc bag
- Previously opened box of chocolates
- Hard candies that witnessed the Bush years - the first set of Bush years
- Used VHS tape of Ghost World
- A paperback book about angels with the back cover missing
- Used socks
- Used scarves
- Used lipsticks
- Used eyeshadow avec dirty brush
- Lotion samples so visibly elderly that they'd calcified in the tubes
- A lot of dusty shit that had clearly been languishing under peoples' bathroom sinks for years
I threw out two huge garbage bags of bullshit that was in these boxes. The whole house stank of expired cosmetics and open bottles of perfume.
There's obviously a theme here - when some people heard "shoebox project donation", they thought "things that are no longer of use to me". What really filled me with rage was that clearly, the folks who'd donated these crappy, crusty, half-used items honestly thought that their cat-hair-covered beret and used mascara would be "good enough" for a woman who was in a shelter, because the assumption is that women in shelters are poor and should be grateful for whatever you're giving them.
Here's the thing. People in shitty situations don't want the dusty shit you've been keeping under your bathroom sink for three years. They're in a fucking SHELTER over the holidays!! The point of this project is to make them feel good and like some stranger out there cared enough to give them a thoughtful gift. The stuff in the shoebox shouldn't be "good enough". It should be "good", period. Oh my god, I'm still so MAD!!!!!!!!
I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, because most of you local lovelies who might put a shoebox together this year already know how to make someone's holiday special. But I still wanted to bitch about it. Because holy crap.
As I said, Katr has put together a great post with lots of details about the Shoebox Project, if you're interested in donating! As I'm sure you will be, knowing that I will likely be judging your box. HA ha! "Box."