Suzelle DIY makes up a Santa's Shoebox. Easy peasy
Brighten up an underprivileged kid's Christmas with a specially packed shoebox filled with goodies.

This year marks the 10th birthday of the Santa's Shoebox Project, an initiative that has become one of South Africa’s favourite ways to give over the festive season. From a humble 180 shoeboxes donated in its first year, it has now notched up more than half a million thoughtful shoeboxes donated to underprivileged children across South Africa and Namibia.

What makes the Santa Shoebox project a favourite with family, individual and corporate donors is that it is highly personalised. Prospective beneficiaries apply to the project in April each year. After 1 September, donors get to choose who they make a pledge to, with the child’s name, age and gender known to them upfront so that they are empowered to choose perfectly appropriate contents of their shoebox. 

It is also why it is so important that all pledges are fulfilled – there’s always a child in anticipation of what Christmas might bring, and an unfulfilled pledge is just like Santa failing to make good on the promise of the festive season. Donors are encouraged to remember that a pledge is a promise.

A decade of experience has finely honed the wisdom of what’s best to go into a Santa Shoebox. There’s a specific balance of what every child wants and what underprivileged children particularly need, which has informed this year’s theme of More Than Just a Shoebox.

A toothbrush too mundane? Never

Always generous in spirit, some donors may want to fill the shoebox space with items more exciting than a soap and facecloth, toothpaste and a toothbrush; but the reality is these everyday gifts are vital under the circumstances. 

The Santa Shoebox beneficiaries live in deep poverty; the means to achieve all-important general and dental hygiene are, most often, out of their parents’ or caregiver’s reach or awareness. By including these everyday items in the Santa Shoebox, the donor helps to highlight how important it is for disease prevention that children are able to wash with soap and brush teeth daily. 

In this context, these mundane items actually take pride of place in a Santa Shoebox – they raise important awareness of what is essential in child care. Compiling a box for a child in need can be a great way for parents to educate their children about those less fortunate than they are.

The fun stuff

There’s also plenty of space in a Santa Shoebox to include the fun stuff. The template for a Santa Shoebox also includes an age-appropriate toy, an outfit of clothing and a vital gift of stationery, as well as a sweet treat. If all of this seems too much for an individual donor, it’s more than easy to get together as a family, a community group or a corporate team to complete one Santa Shoebox that makes an extraordinary experience become real for a child.

It’s not as important how the box gets filled as it is that a child gets a Santa Shoebox filled with what they need.

How to make a Santa Shoebox - they need 100,000!

This year the Santa Shoebox Project aims to donate 100,000 boxes to underprivileged children throughout the country.

If you need some inspiration, Suzelle DIY shows just how easy it is: 

More than just a shoebox

Complementing the 100 000 shoeboxes, the SSB Pipeline will be offering donors the opportunity to purchase a Little Sun solar lamp which, after charging for only 5 hours, provides more than 50 hours of light – ensuring more time to read, draw, play and do homework and no more breathing harmful emissions from non-sustainable light sources. These will be available as and when individual Drop Offs become fully pledged.

Given that the project’s main sponsors cover all operating costs of The Santa Shoebox Project, all other donations contribute towards the SSB Legacy. The funds are used for community upliftment projects. For 2016 and 2017, Santa Shoebox will be focusing on water, distributing Hippo Rollers to communities who don’t have the luxury of running water in their own homes.

So don't wait, go make a at and take your kids shopping!

Press release supplied by Positive Dialogue.

Are you and your kids making up a Santa's Shoebox this year? What are you adding to the box? Send your comments and photos to

More on

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.