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The Shoebox Project for Women

The Organization

The Shoebox Project for Women was founded in 2011, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by four sisters-in-law: Jessica, Caroline, Vanessa and Katy Mulroney. The family had noticed that there were many opportunities to provide gifts to children experiencing homelessness during the holiday season, but there were no such gift drives for their mothers. Wanting to make the holiday season a little brighter for some local women in their community,  they decided to ask friends and acquaintances to fill a Shoebox with gifts for the holidays – some little luxuries that would bring a smile to any woman's face . ​That first holiday season, their goal was to collect 156 Shoeboxes; just enough to serve the women living at one Toronto family shelter. By word of mouth and the power of social media, they ended up receiving 400 Shoeboxes that year - enough gifts for women accessing  four local shelters. Donors also started spontaneously including notes of support and encouragement in their Shoeboxes, which were especially appreciated by their recipients. The Mulroney sisters quickly realized that their modest little "Shoebox Project" had legs, and a national movement was officially born.

Our Mission

To uplift and empower women who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness through in-kind support, education and community participation.

Our Vision

To foster equitable communities where all women are seen, valued, and treated with dignity and compassion.

Our Approach

  1. Through volunteer-led gift drives that benefit women who are impacted by homelessness, we build compassionate and connected communities

  2. By distributing essentials of daily living to shelters and community agencies, we support women and gender-diverse people facing income inequality.

  3. By building awareness and educating youth, we challenge stigmas, fight discrimination, and promote equity.

Who We Serve

We continually strive to promote equity and inclusion through our gift drives. Though our primary focus is on working with local shelters, we deliver gifts and other in-kind donations to any community service agency that serves womxn who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Shelters serving families; individuals who identify as women, transgender or non-binary; seniors; youth; refugees; adults living with disabilities; pregnant and parenting youth; and more

  • Immigrant, refugee & newcomer welcome programs

  • Community health centres

  • Indigenous friendship centres

  • Food & clothing banks

  • Supportive & transitional housing programs

  • Homeless outreach services and drop-ins

  • Employment support services

  • Mental health and addiction services

  • First Nations reserves

The Shoebox Project is, and has always been, an unaffiliated, non-religious charity that celebrates diversity, stands firmly against racism and challenges oppression in all its forms.

A note on gender: When we use the term women, we are using it in an inclusive manner and are mindful of the diverse and intersecting identities of the people who access our services.


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Our People