Filling a shoebox

Our supporters are keen to send a shoebox to the children we support in Zimbabwe. It’s fun choosing items to put in and the joy of opening one lasts forever. Some children have never had their own clothing and live in torn hand me downs from their siblings. Their faces light up when they see a plain T-shirt, underwear or shoes together with coloured pens and paper. Lip balm soothes their sore lips and Vaseline helps heal their cracked feet and hands. Flip flops provide comfort when walking barefoot on stony paths.

It’s easy and fun to put a shoebox together; ask your local shoe shop for an empty shoebox and wrap the box and lid separately in colourful wrapping paper. Write on a large label whether it’s for a boy or girl and their age group. Choose 2-4 years, 5-9 years or 10-14 years. Stick the label to the outside lid of your shoebox.

You can put a letter, with your email address and photo, in your shoebox to make the gesture more personal. Maybe write your letter on colourful paper and share your name and age. The children love to hear about the fun you’ve had packing the shoebox, about your favourite things, what you like doing, food you like to eat and games you like to play. Please leave your letter unsealed as we need to be able to read it for Child Protection purposes. Tape your letter and photo to the underside of  shoebox lid and the child who opens it may reply.

We’ve created a list of SUGGESTED ITEMS to help you choose what to put in; it’s fun to trawl high street shops, pound shops, newsagents, toy shops and even DIY and garden centres. They all have a great variety of good value items and often have 3 for 2 offers. If you’re putting in pencils, why not include a pencil sharpener? You can save space by filling a plastic drinking bottle, or tennis ball tube, with stationery and toiletries.

It’s useful to include a plastic soap container and toothbrush container so they can be kept clean and not get caked in mud. Bigger wheels on toy aeroplanes, cars and lorries make them easier to play with as they don’t get clogged up with dirt.

We know the children will be grateful and a plain, child-size T-shirt, underwear and water shoes or flip flops are particularly well received. The children are afraid of owls and snakes so please avoid putting these toys in your shoebox.

Any shoebox going abroad is subject to the usual Customs & Excise rules; please don’t include anything of a political, racial or religious nature, aerosol cans, mirrors, glass or breakable items (like snow globes), liquids (bubble bath, bubbles for blowing, liquid soap, perfume or shampoo), any items that could be used for gambling like 4-suit playing cards, anything sharp like razors or scissors, any war related items like toy guns, knives or soldier figures. Please include only hard sweets and chewing gum. Chocolate will melt!

We’d be grateful if you’d cover the transport and shipping costs from the UK to Zimbabwe. Please put a £5 note (or £5 cheque made payable to Creating Better Futures) in an envelope on top of the contents of your shoebox.

Place a rubber band around your closed shoebox and bring it to our offices at First floor, Unit 4, Beacontree Plaza, Gillette Way, Reading, Berks. RG2 0BS  Contact or 0118 327 1154 to find out more.

If you’d like to make a difference to children we support, you can;

  • Volunteer in the UK and Zimbabwe
  • Help with admin, digital marketing and fundraising in our Reading office
  • Help teach, construct boreholes, classrooms and toilets in Zimbabwe
  • Promote us at your church, club, school and work
  • Organise activities and events using our fundraising ideas
  • Fundraise for us or donate at JustGiving
  • Ask people who support your fundraising event to sign a Gift Aid form; the government gives 25p extra for every £1 you raise so we get £1.25
  • Sponsor a child for £15 a month to give them skills, vision and motivation
  • Have fun choosing items to fill a shoebox and the joy of opening one lasts forever
  • Purchase from retailers at easyfundraising; we get a percentage of what you spend
  • Take advantage of retailer discounts at Savoo and we get a donation from every purchase you make
  • Use easysearch to search the Internet, instead of Google, so we benefit
  • Promote us by liking and sharing our blogsFacebookLinkedin and Twitter posts
  • We work with Rotary International and our projects are overseen by Rotary Club of Harare