Women living in poverty aren't apparent to the naked eye in Richmond, but Kathy Howarth knows they exist.
That’s why she started up the local wing of the Shoebox Project for Women last year, which collects and distributes gifts in the form of a shoebox to women who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in communities across Canada and the U.S.
Each shoebox is filled with items - with a total value of $50 - that any woman can enjoy, but may not splurge on for herself in difficult times.
Last year, 207 shoeboxes were collected and handed over to CHIMO, Turning Point and other local programs which provide assistance to local women who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
“I feel a kinship to other women and I felt there wasn’t enough awareness of poverty in Richmond,” said Howarth, when asked why she started up a Richmond chapter.
“(Poverty) is really covered up in Richmond; I know of many women sleeping on friends’ sofas and things like that.”
Howarth said anyone wanting to contribute can decorate and fill a shoebox to the value of $50 or donate items to fill the box.
“The support from the community (last year) was fabulous,” she added.
“Again and again, those dropping of boxes expressed how much they appreciated being able to get involved. People found it very simple and meaningful to have their kids help create the shoebox of gifts and with that have discussions about homelessness and challenges facing women right here in our own community.”
Here's a quick list of ideas for people to include in a shoebox gift, and below a list of items to avoid. We'll accept complete shoeboxes (valued at $50) or any individual items that someone can donate that we can use can be used in shoeboxes being created by volunteers. If someone is contributing a full shoebox, they should wrap the lid and bottom separately (since each box has to be inspected) and avoid using bows (since they crushed in transit).
Suggested items include: socks, mitts, scarves, hats, hand-warmers; nut-free chocolate and candy (not alcohol-filled); cough drops, multivitamins; body or hand lotion; soaps; toothbrush; toothpaste; brush; comb; shampoo; nail polish; mascara; eye shadow; lipstick; lip balm; purse-sized Kleenex, small cosmetic bag; gift cards (Tim Hortons, Shoppers, McDonalds, etc. Write the amount on the card or include the receipt); bus tickets; journals; supportive message.
Don’t include: used goods and hotel samples; sized clothing (i.e. S, M, L, XL; mouthwash or hand-sanitizers containing alcohol; bubble bath or bath bombs; candles; foundations or concealers; razors; books; anything opened or not packaged.
The last day for collections is Dec. 9 and Richmond Girls Soccer Association will also be accepting donations at Hugh Boyd Field on Dec. 4 and 5 from 6-8 p.m., near the basketball courts.
The three Richmond drop off locations are:
Coast Capital Savings:
Richmond Centre Branch
6253 No. 3 Rd
Monday: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday – Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Steveston Real Estate Group:
12235 No. 1 Rd
Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.
Sportstown Soccer Shop:
120 - 11700 Steveston Highway
Monday to Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday/Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More information can be found at ShoeBoxProject.com.