Frisco has proven time and time again that we’re a community of “givers”. In my nine years of living here, almost everyone I meet seems to be connected to or volunteering with a charitable organization.
Throughout the year, everywhere you look, there’s an event for a worthy cause. Whether it’s a 5K race, a black-tie affair, a food drive or PTA fundraiser, Frisco enjoys giving back.
This time of year, you’ll be offered many opportunities to do something good for others. Local resident Audra Hooper has a simple idea for you that begins with an item you probably have in your closet…
What do you do with your empty shoeboxes?
A few years ago while attending a local writing club, I met Audra Hooper. She’s an aspiring writer, mom of two littles, and wife to a husband immersed in the corporate world. We hit it off immediately.
Sharing a love of fiction writing, we swapped stories of our amateur writing ventures and the books locked in our heads screaming to be put on paper. We also shared a passion to give back to our respective communities.
During the year of her 30th birthday, Audra decided to take on thirty random acts of kindness, one for each day of the month. It culminated on the last day when she gathered a group of friends for a sandwich-making party for the homeless in downtown Dallas.
It was here that she first learned about SoupMobile and its mission to feed the homeless. SoupMobile is different from traditional soup kitchens in that they’re mobile and take the food to areas where the homeless congregate.
Audra was busy with a toddler and newborn, but SoupMobile remained on her mind and in her heart. She looked them up wondering if there was any way she could contribute to their cause while home with young kids.
That’s when she learned about the Christmas Shoeboxes, an annual tradition of offering Christmas gifts to thousands of homeless men and women in the Dallas area.
It’s a simple but meaningful act of filling shoeboxes with inexpensive items that will bless the lives of the homeless living on the streets of Dallas in the winter. In Christmas 2015, she started a local drive. Audra shared,
It’s very important to me that my kids grow up with compassion for others and an understanding of how blessed we are to live the life that we do. Throughout my life I’ve always tried to keep my eyes and heart open to ways to give back, help others, and spread joy. I started collecting shoeboxes for the homeless when my kids were 3 years old and 7 months old because it was a simple, tangible gesture to help others in our community in a way they could understand and relate to.
That first year, Audra and her family put together ten boxes and invited a few friends to join them. The response was overwhelming, so she decided to make it an annual event. Their record year was a delivery of over 800 boxes.
What I’ve learned through this experience over the last few years is that people are good, they have big hearts, and want to help others in need. What often holds us back is being overwhelmed by all of the worthy causes and not having the time to research and get organized.
Audra and her team of friends across Frisco and neighboring cities are joyfully willing to take the time and do the legwork to help ensure that each of the thousands of homeless individuals who receive the boxes feel loved at Christmas.
How can you get involved with the Christmas Shoebox Project?
This year, Audra and her friends are going for a record goal of 1,000 shoeboxes. There are drop off points in various local cities to make it convenient for anyone to participate.
Supporting the project is so easy! Putting together a full shoebox only takes about $10, but donations of any kind or value are welcome. Useful and meaningful items can be found at your local dollar tree, supermarket or discount store.
How to fill your shoebox:
- Use an empty shoebox (standard size). If you can’t find a regular shoebox you can also use plastic boxes or other types of boxes similar in size.
- Ideally, the box should have a separate bottom and lid so that it can be wrapped (both the lid and the box separately) with any Christmas wrapping paper.
- Fill the box with a variety of small, inexpensive, practical gifts items, such as:
- Items to stay warm and dry: hat, gloves, scarf, tube socks, hand warmers, plastic poncho, small umbrella.
- Items to maintain personal hygiene: small hand sanitizer, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, disposable razors, travel size tissues, lip balm.
- Items to make life on the streets a little easier: pen, pencil, small notebook, flashlight, small radio (with batteries), phone calling card, stamps, granola bars, hard candy or gum, paperback book.
- An extra special treat would be a $5.00 fast-food gift card (but items like this aren’t required).
- Once the contents have been placed in the box, consider enclosing a Christmas card or a short personal note signed with your first name only.
- Use a ribbon to wrap around the entire box to secure the lid to the box.
- If preferred, you can simply donate a few items and have Audra and her team assemble a complete box.
- You can also choose to donate money for Audra and her team to purchase the items. Contact Audra via her Facebook group: 5th Annual Shoeboxes for the homeless or via email. You can also donate items via this Sign-Up Genius.
Most boxes will be generic and will have items that can be used by a male or female. However, if you choose to make up a box specifically for a female, please use a black marker and put a big “F “on the lid of the box so it can be set aside for a homeless woman.
‘Tis the Season to Make it a Group Effort
Feel free to share the details of the Christmas Shoebox drive with your friends, neighbors, school, faith community, or sports organization. Consider arranging a packing party or donation drive.
The boxes must be delivered to the Soup Mobile in time for pre-Christmas distribution. The absolute last date for drop off is December 12, 2019.
Anyone can drop off completed shoeboxes at locations in Frisco, Plano, Lewisville, Carrollton, McKinney, Rockwall, Aubrey, and Keller. Pick the one that is closest to you (contact Audra for exact address details). Audra will arrange delivery of the boxes to the Soup Mobile.
This is a great project that your whole family can be involved in, and a great excuse to gather some friends for a fun event of packing and wrapping boxes for a great cause!