Frequently Asked Questions

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Who receives Shoeboxes?

Primarily children, teens & women in crisis, though we are willing to assist anyone we can in need.  Often the victims of domestic violence or sudden household upheaval, recipients often are left without so much as a toothbrush.  Our goal is to fill immediate needs until additional social services can stabilize the situation.  We also distribute special Christmas Shoeboxes during the holidays.

Are you a non-profit organization?

Finally, yes!  We are currently recognized by the State of North Carolina as a non-profit corporation, & we are in the process of establishing our foundation as a 501-3c organization under the regulation of the IRS.  This means donations that although donations may be deductible on your individual or business NC tax returns, it will probably be a few months before they can be claimed on federal tax returns.   However, we recommend that businesses wishing to donate either money or goods check with their accountants, as such contributions may be considered deductible as public-relations expenses.

What portion of donations is spent on overhead expenses?

A big fat zero percent!  Our overhead is 100% covered by a family of Samaritans, so any additional contributions go directly to those in need.  We are experienced coupon clippers & sale shoppers, scooping up quantity bargains, to maximize each precious dollar.  For example, we recently bought $18.00 boy's shirts for $1.91 each & tennis shoes for $3.00 a pair.  It costs $10-12 for us to put together a shoebox full of toiletries, school supplies & a toy or two.  Community-minded merchants often grant us an extra discount, which helps us buy more children's clothing.  For some of our kids it is the first time they've ever had anything new, & it's a real thrill to receive clothes with tags (though we remove the price).

Do you accept donations?

Our mission is to share our resources & our hearts with our neighbors in times of need.  We will accept your shoeboxes for recycling, as well as items for filling them, & make sure they get where they are needed.  We did not accept cash donations in the beginning, but now that we are a non-profit, they are welcome, & may be made by check or via PayPal for credit cards or balance transfer.  We will be happy to provide receipts.

Don't forget that goods are also very welcome.  Did you get a steal on jeans or jackets?  Can you pick up extra boxes of crayons & pencils at the Back-to-School sales?  Did you pick up some of those tiny shampoo while traveling? Do you have used school uniforms in still-good condition?  Are you storing unused baby items  We can use them all!

How do you distribute donations?

Now that we've been operational a few years we have developed a number of assistance programs, but none of our distribution is direct to recipients.  For reasons of privacy & because we do not want to duplicate existing social services, we rely on other non-profits & social service agencies to both identify potential recipients & to distribute our shoeboxes & other contributions.  We are also on call for emergency situations; for example, when children are taken into protective custody.  Sometimes we are able to anticipate needs, such as providing caseworkers with birthday cards for foster children or coloring books & crayons for a hospital pediatric ward.  School supplies are either provided to teachers or to a local children's foundation for distribution to pupils.

By coordinating our efforts with agencies & other non-profits we are able to concentrate our efforts where they are most needed.  Rather than replacing or duplicating existing services, we can reach more kids & moms in need by augmenting established programs (think of us as anonymous fairy godparents).

Why do you limit your efforts to Pamlico County?

Actually, we don't!  We started here as a one great-grandma operation with a car that had over 250,000 miles on it.  The odometer tripped over the 300,000 mark before the vehicle's untimely demise, but we're still going strong with the support of additional helpers.   We've expanded geographically as additional needs have been identified.  However, our goal is not to become so large that we expend too much time & resources expanding.  We aren't administrators, but a team responding to critical needs.  By making this website available to all as a resource, we hope that our Shoebox Project will inspire those in other areas to develop their own programs.  With this in mind, we have some exciting new ideas on which we are working to help those in other geographic areas develop their own projects.  We're thinking globally, but first acting locally.  We are happy to link to projects in other areas, & they can Link to Us.

Didn't I see something in the paper about helping soldiers, too?

This has long (since 1968) been a personal project that was incorporated into The Shoebox Project a few years ago.  Although our concentration of services is local, we consider the women & men who serve our country in the military to be part of our community.  With the help of individuals, clubs, non-profits & church groups we are able to continue to do our part boosting the morale & well-being of deployed soldiers halfway across the world.  We have made quilts for the wounded, adopted individual soldiers through Soldier's Angels <>, sent school supplies & toys for soldiers to distribute to Iraqi children, & we send regular packets of handmade unsigned greeting cards to Afghanistan to help military families keep in touch.  A 2010 special effort, Operation Military Appreciation, is in full swing.  We started with 200 handmade patriotic cards thanking our military for their service & letting them know that they are appreciated in Pamlico County.  In cooperation with our local Veteran's Council, we set up a booth at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Courthouse, & asked attendees to sign our cards.  Our goal is to completely fill each card with signatures of Pamlico County folks so that each recipient knows for sure that we appreciate their sacrifices & support their efforts for us.  Since Memorial Day several individuals & organizations have signed cards (& some, in spite of writer's cramp, have signed each of the 200 cards).  We are working through the Chaplain's Support Team of Soldier's Angels <> to distribute the cards to military personnel stationed in Iraq & on outposts in Afghanistan & to those who especially in need of a morale boost.

I'd like to help, but I don't know how to decorate a shoebox.

The reasons it is nice to decorate your shoebox are (1) it recycles cardboard boxes that would otherwise to go landfill, & (2) a decorated box becomes not only a keepsake, but gives the recipient, who may have been totally uprooted, a sense of belonging ("I'm okay, I have stuff!")

The plan is to post some how-to's & pics (basically it takes a little fabric or wallpaper, some glue or wallpaper paste & a few woodworking clamps or clothespins), & I'm happy to teach anyone how to cover a shoebox.  However, don't let fear of decorating stop you from participating!  Plastic shoeboxes are appreciated, too, & readily available at dollar stores.

The need for now is greater than our supply of shoeboxes, so we've gotten a little creative.  We've used a new tote given with a bookstore promotion, & sewing up a simple tote takes very little time.  There are lots of cute inexpensive fabrics available, & I recently delivered a denim tote made by cutting the legs off a pair of recycled jeans & sewing up the bottom.  There's plenty of fabric in the legs for nice straps (I cut up old towels to pad them for comfort in carrying).

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