Volunteers throughout the Maritimes are busy stuffing decorated shoeboxes with goodies that will be given to women in need at local shelters in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Miriah Kearney of Truro, N.S., is participating in a national program called the Shoebox Project for Women which collects and distributes shoeboxes filled with gifts for homeless women.
“It gives them a sense of hope and lets them know that they are not alone and isolation is something that is a very big issue among the homeless,” said Kearney.
Each box is valued at about $50 and includes items like chocolate and toiletries as well as special gifts like gift cards and makeup, to help make the woman feel special.
“I think it is important to do something special for these women at Christmas time.” said Kearney who is hoping to collect enough donations to fill at least 200 boxes in Moncton alone.
“As a woman myself and as a mother, I think that we often put others before our own needs and this is something that is specifically for the women.”
Each box also contains a handwritten note of encouragement from the donor.
Shirley Hicks recently lived for two months at a homeless shelter in Moncton.
She has been a recipient of the boxes and says knowing that someone cares “is like the best feeling in the world.”
Hicks, who now lives in set-up housing, said living in a shelter was a “scary” experience for her.
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Even though there were other women sleeping all around her, she said she felt isolated and alone, especially leading up to the holidays
“I only have a daughter which I don’t see often,” Hicks said.
Hicks says getting one of the boxes made her feel valued.
According to the State of Homelessness report from 2016 — 27.3 percent of the homeless population in Canada are women.
Since 2011, across North America, the Shoebox Project has distributed more than 130,000 Shoeboxes, valued at more than 6.5 million dollars according to the project’s website.