Lizzy Deningcharity, Christmas

Everything you need to know about shoebox appeals

Lizzy Deningcharity, Christmas
Everything you need to know about shoebox appeals

Shoebox appeals have become part of the modern Christmas – it’s so much fun selecting gifts for someone in need, and imagining the festive cheer you’ll bring them. Find out which charities are looking for donations, and the types of gift ideas that might work.

Christian charities running shoebox appeals

Samartian’s Purse Operation Christmas Child

Samartian’s Purse is running its popular Operation Christmas Child again. This is a Christian charity with a strong message of faith, and boxes go to more than 150 countries to impoverished children. You need to be quick with this one, as boxes need to be dropped off by November 18. They want lids and boxes wrapped separately in colourful wrapping paper. You can choose to buy for a girl or a boy, and also choose between age ranges (2-4, 5-9, 10-14). Top up with toys, hygiene items and school supplies and pay a suggested donation of £5 to cover shipping and other costs. Find your nearest drop off point

Salvation Army Christmas Present Appeal

Many branches of the Salvation Army across the UK are running a Christmas present appeal, asking for new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children who might not receive a present otherwise. These will then be wrapped and distributed. Donations at your nearest centre by mid-December. l

Non-religious shoebox appeals

Buy a Refuge parcel

Domestic violence charity Refuge looks after women and children escaping violent homes. You can buy a Christmas dinner, emergency parcel or even a law parcel to help them rebuild their lives. Parcels start at just £5. 

Rotary Shoebox Scheme

Rotary clubs across the UK run shoebox appeals year-round, so if you’ve missed the cut-off for other organisations, this could be the solution. You need to fill one of the boxes provided, either from your local club or by ordering online. There are four types of boxes to choose between: boys and girls; teenagers; household or babies. These all got to Eastern Europe. 

  • Your local hospice, children’s ward or homeless shelter may also be running an appeal – get in contact to check.

How to do a shoebox appeal

Check whether you need to provide your own shoebox or order one from the charity, and then if they have any rules about what to include. If not, try some of our suggestions. Then post it off, or take it to the local branch of the charity as requested.

What goes in a shoebox appeal?

Appeals for toys often ask for cars and trucks, balls, jigsaws (complete), action figures, soft toys, dolls, colouring books and pens or crayons, bubble blowers, wooden and plastic toys, pencil cases and other school items, stickers, mittens and hats, harmonicas, games, playing cards.

Appeals for hygiene items or household boxes often ask for wrapped soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, disposable razors, shampoo, soap flakes, antiseptic cream, face or body creams, make up, scissors, sewing kits.

What should be left out of shoebox appeals?

Often items including batteries, food and drink and living materials such as seeds aren’t allowed. For safety anything liquid must be sealed, and nothing sharp should go into boxes for children.

Shoebox appeal alternatives

If it’s too late to fill a shoebox, or you want a simpler project, here are some charitable alternatives.

Sponsor a child

Consider sponsoring a child through Plan International UK. It’s a monthly donation of £19.50 which will help not only your child, but their family and community to have better access to education, clean water and healthcare.

Oxfam Unwrapped

Buy a gift that makes a difference via Oxfam – you can buy anything from livestock to education for people across the world – including fighting poverty in the UK.