Sarnia’s Annabelle Rayson and her family are once again assembling hundreds of shoeboxes full of personal items and little luxuries for local homeless and at-risk women.
Rayson started the Sarnia Shoebox Project six years ago when she was 12 years old after serving as a legislative page at Queen’s Park. While there, Rayson met MPP Caroline Mulroney, co-founder of the national Shoebox Project, and decided Sarnia needed a chapter.
Rayson, her mom Stephanie Lobsinger, and sister Cyndi, have since delivered more than 5,000 shoeboxes to local agencies that support women. They distribute the boxes full of items such as new gloves, warm socks, chocolate and personal hygiene products during the holidays and on International Women’s Day.
The first year, Rayson hoped to collect enough for 80 boxes at Christmas and ended up delivering 287. This season, she is aiming to fill at least 300 by Dec. 11 and deliver them to the Inn of the Good Shepherd, the Women’s Interval Home, O’hanna’s Landing, the Sarnia Sexual Assault Survivor Centre and other local organizations.
To support the 2023 Shoebox Holiday Drive, local residents can fill a standard-sized, decorated shoebox with approximately $50 worth of gifts and essentials that any woman might enjoy. Include a greeting or message of support and drop off at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club, Fuzion Hair Concepts, Norton Hairstyling, Sarnia Shoebox store or MPP Bob Bailey’s office.
“Feel free to wrap a complete shoebox or donate individual items as you can,” said Rayson.
She is a graduate of St. Patrick’s Catholic High School and is attending her first year at Harvard University where she is studying environmental sciences and engineering.
“My Christmas wish is to finish exams in time to get home to deliver the shoeboxes,” Rayson said.
For more information or to donate financially, visit www. shoeboxproject.ca/chapters/sarnia.