In part 1 of a 2-part shoebox charity series, learn of a number of charities that accept “shoebox collections” for orphans and other needy people
Today’s article is courtesy of yet another outstanding Knitting for Charity reader, who suggested a collection of “patterns for items to use in shoeboxes for orphanages.” This was an idea I would probably never have come up with on my own!
When I set out to research this, the first thing I did was look for “shoebox charities.” My research found several great charities, and that’s when I decided this would be a two-part series. Part one, published today, will focus on several shoebox or support charities. The next part, published this Friday, will offer many different knitting patterns that could be used to support one or more of today’s charities.
Shoebox Charities around the World
One of the best things about the charities that follow is that they are international. Some are based in the United States; some are based in the United Kingdom; some are based in other countries. One is even based in South Africa!
Operation Christmas Child: This is probably one of the world’s best-known shoebox charities. Originally a UK charity founded by Dave Cooke, it merged with American charity organization Samaritan’s Purse in 1995 so that the organization could operate globally. And in fact, today it operates not only out of the UK and the US, but also out of the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The link will take you to Samaritan’s Purse’s worldwide offices page; click the link for the page in your country, and then look for links about Operation Christmas Child.
Link to Hope: Link to Hope is a UK charity with two different shoebox appeals: the Family Appeal and the Elderly Appeal. Unlike most charities directed toward children, Link to Hope offers their work toward either an entire family or toward elderly folks. Directions for filling and dropping off shoeboxes can be found at the link. (Note that knitted items for Family boxes are not to be placed in the box, but handed directly to a Link of Hope volunteer.)
Operation Shoebox: This American charity supports troops around the world with gifts from home. While you can certainly fill a typical shoebox, there is also a special, separate program that allows knitters and other crafters to make gifts just for troops. You can find out about the Crafts program here, and you can check out their care package program at the Operation Shoebox link above.
Santa’s Shoebox: This is one of two charities that are based in South Africa; this one also operates out of Nambia. The idea is the same as many shoebox programs, but this one is special because of the extensive support network of South African volunteers that makes this happen. Shoebox pledging begins on September 1, but in the meantime you can check the link above to get to the details of filling a shoebox.
Help for Orphans International: This organization, called HFOI for short, runs several programs that offers assistance to orphans throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. In addition to Shoe Box Gifts, you can also participate in their Clothe the Children and Operation Backpack programs. Find out more about those and other short- and mid-term assistance projects at the link above.
Ramadaan Shoebox Project: This is the second charity on this list based in South Africa, and you might call it the Muslim counterpart to Operation Christmas Child. It operates throughout South Africa’s poorest communities and offers to bring smiles to children’s faces during the month of Ramadaan.
Bread of Life Orphanage and Feeding Centers: This charity is based in Romania, and it works tirelessly to offer hope and practical help to the often utterly defenseless orphans in that country. It has a collection site in the US (in South Carolina), and while there is no separate “shoebox program,” Bread of Life does have an organization in place to receive collections of supplies. At the link above, you’ll find some of the supplies they need as well as an address to which you can send these supplies.
Shoebox Ministry: The Shoebox Ministry is located in the US, in Arizona, and its mission is simple: collecting and distributing personal hygiene kits to the homeless and working poor in shelters in Scottsdale. The link above offers a list of items you can supply.
I know that this list cannot possibly be comprehensive. If you know of a “shoebox charity” not listed here, please comment below. Even if the organization is strictly for your own local community, list it anyway — you never know who might be looking!
I hope this list gets you started thinking about the possibilities. Stay tuned for part 2 for a list of free patterns that you can use for one of these shoebox charities!