We get lots of questions in the office so we thought it would be a good idea to give answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q - Where can I get a shoebox from?
A - Would it be too obvious an answer? Think laterally such a sports shops, clothes shops, bridal stores, upmarket and independent shoe shops. Call them during the day and ask when they destroy their boxes - generally late afternoon. Offer to go in and pick them up from them so they don't have to dispose of them.
Q - What size shoebox should I use?
A - We would recommend around a size 8 but slightly bigger than that ie a 10 or 11 would be fine.
Q - Would a boot box be ok?
A - No, we want to avoid boot boxes. Its not fair on the people who are giving them out abroad, having to decide who gets the bigger box. Also if the shoeboxes are uniform in size, transporting them is more cost effective.
Q - Do we wrap the whole box or the box and lid seperately.
A - We ask people to wrap the whole box. We don't open your boxes - unless it is too light and we want to put more items in. Or if something about the box makes us a bit suspicious ie extremely heavy, smells strange, is very rattly or we feel there is likelihood of food being inside. Otherwise your box gets sent out as it is.
Q - Can I put liquids in my shoebox?
A - Yes you can, we recommend around 300ml. It is always a good idea though to either put sellotape over the lids or to put them in a seperate plastic bag. This is just incase they should leak.
Q - Can we send food in our shoeboxes?
A - No as we are not allowed to send food by customs. Only sweets and chocolate are acceptable. Tins of beans, sardines, tea, coffee, bottles of water, tinned fruit, biscuits etc are not.
Q - Can I put knitted teddies in?
A - We love teddies but the ones that go in the box have to have a CE mark on them. The knitted ones go between the boxes so they don't rattle. As they are termed as stuffing then customs appear to be Ok about them and they are given out with the shoeboxes.
Q - Can I put seeds in?
A - Again no we are afraid. It would be very useful if we could but again customs wouldn't agree so we can't.
Q - Someone has said you don't want large knitted blankets but you do want knee blankets - what size?
A - Around 3ft x 3ft (91.44 x 91.44cm) please. The large bed blankets take up so much room and are difficult to transport. Knee blankets are far more useful and great for packing.
Q - Do you put any literature into the boxes or sent it out with the boxes? Does the gift of a shoebox have any strings attached.
A - None whatsoever. Shoeboxes are given out freely to the most marginalised and poorest groups of people. We use a network who include churches, mayors, community leaders, pastors etc to give shoeboxes out in schools, community centres, door to door etc. Very occasionally the community is invited to the biggest building in a village to have shoeboxes given to them for logistical reasons. Some times the biggest building is a church but people who don't want to go there will be given their shoebox seperately. We are a Christian charity and people that receive a box are generally aware of that. Boxes are given out regardless of religion, colour or creed.