From left to right: Women’s Support Worker Kirsten Zaleschuk, Sue McCormac, Jodi Cohen, Margaret West and local Coordinator for The Campbell River Shoebox Project Alison Skrepneck deliver gift-filled shoeboxes to the Campbell River & North Island Transition Society. Photo supplied

Campbell River and North Island communities fill shoeboxes to fill the hearts of women in need

More than 550 of the boxes delivered to women in our community and others in the region

Hundreds of local disadvantaged women will enjoy shoebox gifts this holiday season thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the community.

The Shoebox Project For Women’s goal was surpassed again this year, with over 550 gift-filled shoeboxes delivered in the Campbell River and North Island to shelters and community agencies serving women in need.

The Campbell River and North Island Transition Society – which includes the Campbell River Women’s Resource Centre – Radiant Life Outreach, Salvation Army Evergreen House, AIDS Vancouver Island, Salvation Army Lighthouse Family Services, John Howard Society/Foundry, Opportunities Advocacy Services Centre, the Immigrant Welcome Centre, Laichwiltach Family Life Society, Campbell River Public Health, the Sobering Assessment Centre, the Stopping Violence Outreach Program in both Campbell River and Gold River, as well as Campbell River Family Services and Community Health Services Island Health all received shoeboxes to distribute this year. More than 470 of the boxes went to these organizations.

Marina Hargrave, project lead in the North Island, along with her daughters Park and Clancy, collected and will be distributing about another 80 of the boxes through the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre Society.

For a while, they didn’t think they would meet their goal, let alone exceed it.

“Up until two days before the drop-off deadline, we were less than 40 per cent of our goal in Campbell River and an even lower percentage for the North Island,” according to Alison Skrepnek, who coordinates the local initiative. “We were concerned that we wouldn’t meet out goal in providing gifts for vulnerable women, especially with what’s happening in Island communities with the forestry strike.”

But the donations came flooding in over those last two days.

“Those who could give, did,” Skrepnek says. “I’m so thrilled that so many women will receive a shoebox gift this Christmas and I want to thank everyone for their generosity.

Skrepnek says it couldn’t have happened without the individuals, groups and businesses who created shoebox gifts for the women and those who donated extra items to help fill them – including the youth of the community, including students from L’École Phoenix Middle School – as well as the hard-working volunteers who gave their time to collect, sort decorate and deliver the shoeboxes to shelters and community agencies.

Special thanks, Skrepnek says, go out to Dan Samson for use of a commercial space to store and sort the boxes, All in One Party Shop for use of their tables, and the drop-off locations around the community who allowed the organization to take up some of their space during the initiative.

These include Coastal Community Credit Union in Discovery Harbour, La Tee Da Lingerie and Sundance Java Bar in Campbell River and the North Island Crisis and Counselling Centre in Port Hardy.

There were many businesses who collected items for shoeboxes, as well, including Vital Roots Wellness, La Tee Da Lingerie, French Creek Collective, Ragdolz, Hermosa Lingerie, The Good Ninas and Coastland Veterenary Hospital. Shoppers Drug Mart Tyee Plaza and Save on Foods also donated items for the boxes, and Dr. Lathangue donated dental supplies for the cause.

This was the seventh year for the Shoebox Project in Campbell River and third year for the North Island. The need continues to grow year after year, and the organization is proud to fill that need and thanks the communities for their help in doing so.

Watch for information next fall on how to get involved for 2020.