Mary Lou Newbold has been instrumental in expanding the Shoebox Project in Victoria to provide much needed items to young mothers in need. Contributed photo

Shoebox project helps mothers in need

Project seeking donations for Mother’s Day

Tim Collins


The number of women in Greater Victoria accessing emergency weather mats has increased by a factor of 625 per cent in the past five years and 21 per cent of single mothers in Canada are raising their kids while living below the poverty line, according to information gathered by Victoria’s Shoebox Project.

It’s a situation that prompted Mary Lou Newbold, a volunteer for the project, to suggest the expansion of the popular program. The Shoebox Project is aimed at filling shoeboxes with some of the necessities of life, such as personal hygiene items and other useful personal items.

While the project has traditionally operated over the Christmas season, Newbold’s group has expanded to include Mother’s Day. Newbold credits her own mother’s inspirational story as the impetus for the Mother’s Day initiative.

“What we ask is that people wishing to help make some mother’s life a little easier wrap a shoebox (the lid has to be removable so a little wrapping dexterity is required) and fill it with items a mother in poverty might not otherwise get for herself,” she said.

And the group continues to need donations.

“We get a lot of hand and body lotion, makeup, nail polish…even toothbrushes and toothpaste,” said Melissa Kelly, another long-time volunteer with the project. “The list of things we get is really pretty amazing, though. It can range from gift cards to chocolates and books. Some people also include personal letters of encouragement. It’s quite amazing.”

Kelly added something as simple as body lotion can make a huge differenc in someone’s life.

“If a mother has to choose between milk for her kids and body lotion, she isn’t going to buy lotion…ever,” she said.

Shoebox donors can drop off their contributions at Mayfair Optometric, 3196 Douglas St., Max Furniture on Bridge Street, or at the customer service desk at Mayfair Mall. Volunteers will then go through the boxes to ensure the contents are appropriate and then distribute the boxes to young mothers in need through a variety of partner agencies like the Boys and Girls Club and Artemis Place Society.

“This is a chance to make some mother’s day a little bit easier on a special day when mothers everywhere are being honoured for what they do every day of their lives,” said Kelly.

For more information on the Shoebox Project visit

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