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How to Help Orphans & Other Needy Folks During the Holidays

Thanks to shoebox collection charities, or “shoebox charities,” you can provide hope and a smile to orphans and other needy folks come the holidays

Shoebox charities

For anyone away from home, impoverished, suffering an illness, orphaned, or otherwise in need, every day can be difficult. But the holiday season — when we’re often expected to be joyful — daily life can feel even more challenging.

My heart has always gone out to people whose life circumstances don’t allow for much merrimaking around the late autumn/early winter holidays. Tight budgets, illnesses, and other difficult situations usually preclude holiday celebrations.

Therefore, I’m indebted to one special Knitting for Charity reader. She once suggested that I put together a collection of “patterns for items to use in shoeboxes for orphanages.” This was an idea I would probably never have come up with on my own!

When I set out to research this, the first thing I did was look for “shoebox charities.” My research found several great charities. So in this post, you’ll find a list of shoebox charities you may enjoy supporting.

In this post, you’ll find a collection of free knitting patterns. You can use any of these to knit support for one or more of the charities shown below!

Want more free knitting patterns for charity? Click here for your copy of "4 Quick Charity Knitting Wins" and start making a difference today!

Shoebox Charities around the World

One of the best things about the charities that follow is that they are international. Some are based in the United States. One is based in the United Kingdom. Several are based in other countries; South Africa provides the base for two!

Operation Christmas Child: This is probably one of the world’s best-known shoebox charities.  Originally a UK charity founded by Dave Cooke, it merged with American charity organization Samaritan’s Purse in 1995. This allowed the organization to operate globally. And in fact, today it operates from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The link will take you to Samaritan’s Purse’s worldwide offices page; click the link for the page in your country, and then look for links about Operation Christmas Child.

Link to Hope: Link to Hope is a UK charity with two different shoebox appeals: the Family Appeal and the Elderly Appeal. Most shoebox charities directed their services toward children. But Link to Hope offers their work toward either an entire family or toward elderly folks. For information about this year’s Shoebox Appeal, click the link at the top of the page. (The link changes every year.)

Directions for filling and dropping off shoeboxes can be found at the link. Note that knitted items for Family boxes are not to be placed in the box, but handed directly to a Link of Hope volunteer.

Operation Shoebox: This American charity supports troops around the world with gifts from home. You can certainly fill a typical shoebox. But there is also a special, separate program that allows knitters and other crafters to make gifts just for troops. Scroll down to “Craft Patterns” to see how you can help in this capacity.

Santa’s Shoebox: This is one of two charities that are based in South Africa. This one also operates out of Nambia. This program is particularly special because of the extensive support network of South African volunteers that makes it happen. Shoebox pledging begins on September 1. But at any time, you can check the link above to get to the details of filling a shoebox.

Help for Orphans International (HFOI): This organization runs several programs that assist orphans throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. In addition to Shoe Box Gifts, you can also participate in their Clothe the Children and Operation Backpack programs.

Ramadaan Shoebox Project: This is the second charity on this list based in South Africa. It operates throughout South Africa’s poorest communities and offers to bring smiles to children’s faces during the month of Ramadaan.

Shoebox Ministry: The Shoebox Ministry is located in the US, in Arizona.  Its mission is simple: collect and distribute personal hygiene kits to the homeless and working poor in shelters in Scottsdale. On this page you’ll find a link to their “recipes” for putting together various types of hygiene kits. Just scroll down to “Make Hygiene Kits.”

I know that this list cannot possibly be comprehensive. If you know of a “shoebox charity” not listed here, please comment below. Even if the organization is strictly for your own local community, list it anyway. You never know who might be looking!

Shoebox collections are such a special way to give a smile and a bit of love to someone who really needs one!

Eager to knit for charity but unsure where to start?
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  1. So appreciate this idea and links. And, even tho time is getting short this year, will give me ideas to knit or collect throughout the year for the future.