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By Sally Torbey

Mothers, daughters, books, and boxes

Uploaded: Nov 23, 2014

One of the benefits of having our nest a little emptier is that we can spend one-on-one time with our youngest children. For many years, friends and parent educators have suggested that this is important, but since we have been outnumbered, and already had enough to feel guilty about, we ignored this advice. Besides, whenever we did manage some individual time with one of the kids, he or she usually commented how much more fun it would have been had we brought along a sibling or two!

Our middle daughter and I share a love of reading, so we were very happy to be invited to join a book group of mothers and daughters that a friend, Sharon, organized a few years ago. Our now middle-school-aged daughters attended nursery school together, but the other members of the group are new acquaintances. We meet every month or two, and my daughter and I enjoy having a special activity together, getting to know the other participants, and reading and discussing a variety of classic and contemporary juvenile fiction, which is still my favorite genre.

At our holiday meeting next month, in addition to our traditional used book gift exchange, Sharon asked if we would be willing to support a charitable initiative called The Shoebox Project. Sharon is originally from Canada, and so is The Shoebox Project. The charity supports women in shelters by encouraging donations of decorated shoeboxes full of stocking stuffers. These gift boxes bring holiday cheer to women in very difficult circumstances. Last holiday season, over 9000 boxes were created and delivered to women in need all over Canada, and Sharon is working to expand the effort to the US.

The grateful testimonials of the recipients of the shoeboxes are very compelling. One woman mentions how the shoebox is the first gift she has received in years. Others speak of the hope and encouragement they feel when someone cares enough to take the time and effort to create a beautiful box and fill it with special purchases for them.

I like the effectiveness, flexibility and simplicity of this project. Boxes can be created individually at home or with a group of friends. The items required are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. All ages can participate, from the toddler who can sticker the shoebox with candy canes to the teens who enjoy selecting the nail polish and fuzzy mittens. We are looking forward to assembling our boxes together at book club next month, and we hope that they bring some joy and comfort to the women who receive them.

A recent Palo Alto Online article describes many opportunities in our community to give of our selves this holiday season, with the hopes of making the holidays a little merrier for all.