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The Shoebox Project for Women In Shelters

The holidays are right around the corner, (already!) and some may call it the most wonderful time of the year - a time for gathering with the ones we love and spending that wholesome, quality time together. At Tips Nail Bar, that begins by uplifting valued members of our community. While it can be easy to get caught up in the joy and commercialism of the holidays, unfortunately there are many people who don't get to experience the luxury of the joyous holiday, and it is during these festive times that we must support the less fortunate. If giving back for the holidays is something that has crossed your mind like it has ours for many years, then I'd like to introduce you to a women lead organization making a powerful impact across Canadian Communities, The Shoebox Project!

The Shoebox Project is an organization that gifts boxes, or “shoe boxes” to homeless women throughout the holiday season. The Shoebox Project was founded in 2011 and in the first year exceeded their goal of 156 shoeboxes by collecting a total of 400 boxes! Using just social media and word of mouth, these female-founders had the opportunity to gift to four women's shelters. Fast forward to 2021… the Shoebox Project has since distributed over 240,000 gifts valued at $12 million to local women impacted by homelessness. JUST, WOW!

The Shoebox Project strongly stands by equality, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism.

“A note on gender: when we use the term women, we are using it in an inclusive manner and are mindful of the diverse and intersecting identities of the people who access our services” - “Who We Serve”-

We at Tips Nail Bar also strongly stand by the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community and support all those whom fall into homelessness amongst these communities. Our support extends to anyone and everyone as we are, and always will be, an inclusive organization.

The Shoebox Project’s vision is “A world where all women are seen, valued, and treated with dignity and compassion.”

Tips stands by this vision with open arms (yes if we could reach out and hug all of you this holiday season, we would!) 8 years ago, Tips Nail Bar became the East End community drop off location for The Shoebox Project and every year since we have received more boxes than we could’ve ever imagined! Tips annually collects 200-300 shoe boxes for The Shoebox Project, and we deeply appreciate everyone who has supported and helped give these women something to look forward to. For us, these essential items are typically easily accessible, but for these women these items are considered luxurious and not as attainable. We encourage all those who have donated in the past to continue their support, and all those who haven’t and have the means to, we would love for you to be apart of this important cause with us! If we all share such vision, could you imagine what the outcome would be?

Did you know lack of personal care items can be a major roadblock to escaping homelessness? Or that access to beauty products can boost self- confidence?

Join us in giving back by giving women a boost of confidence and the essential items they need to get there!


Here are the 7 steps to shoebox success, as stated on the shoebox projects website:

1. Find a drop off location

You may drop your shoe box off at Tips Nail Bar- our Danforth location is the east-end drop off location again this year. If our location isn't your closest, find another location that might work better for you HERE.

SUNDAY - closed

MONDAY - closed

TUESDAY 10am-7:30pm

WEDNESDAY 8:45am-4pm

THURSDAY 10am-8pm

FRIDAY 10am-8pm

SATURDAY 9am-5pm


2. Find an empty box

The dollar store has some great pre-decorated boxes if you are pinched for time or not the best wrapper *wink*


3. Decorate your box

Boxes are inspected before they are delivered to Toronto shelters. Please read all the important information listed below to ensure you achieve shoebox success.

  • Please wrap the top and bottom of the Shoebox separately.

  • Use good quality paper and avoid using bows and intricate ribbon, as boxes are usually stacked on top of one another and undergo some degree of wear and tear during transport.

  • Consider lining the Shoeboxes with tissue paper for a more polished, elegant look.


4. Fill your shoebox

  • Each Shoebox must be valued at approximately $50.

  • Don’t overstuff your box; make sure the lid fits on properly and doesn’t pop off.

  • Avoid including items that are overly delicate to avoid anything getting broken in transit.

Suggested items to include:

  • Gift cards (for groceries, coffee shop, movies, drug store, fast food). Please write the amount on the card or include the receipt.

  • Cozy accessories: socks, mitts, scarf, hat, hand warmers

  • Helpful items for warmer months: sunscreen, reusable water bottle

  • Something sweet: nut-free chocolate and candy (not alcohol-filled)

  • Cough drops, multivitamins

  • Body or hand lotion, soaps, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

  • Brush, comb, shampoo, conditioner

  • Nail polish, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, lip balm

  • Purse-sized Kleenex, small cosmetic bag

  • Shower shoes, soap & toothbrush holder

  • Journals, colouring books, pens, coloured pencils

Please do NOT include:

  • Used goods and hotel samples are not the type of items to make someone feel special and loved

  • Sized clothing (i.e. S, M, L, XL) should not be included because beautiful women come in all different sizes

  • Mouthwash or hand-sanitizers containing alcohol

  • Bubble bath or bath bombs, as most shelters do not have bathtubs

  • Candles

  • Foundations or concealers should not be included because each person has a unique skin tone

  • Razors

  • Jumbo-sized containers

  • Books

  • Feminine hygiene products

  • Anything opened or not packaged

Looking for a virtual option? Create a Shoebox here or make a donation HERE.


5. Write an inspirational message

Women who receive a gift from The Shoebox Project are touched by the effort that goes into decorating the Shoebox as well as the special cards, messages, and poems contained inside. Get creative and have fun!


6. Drop it off

You may drop your shoebox off at Tips Nail Bar (DANFORTH LOCATION ONLY), or you may check the local chapter's page to find out where your closest local drop off location is.


7. Share!

The shoebox project encourages you to share a photo of your experience giving back with the hashtag #shoeboxproject. Spread the word! Feel free to tag us too @tipsnailbar.


We are looking forward to collecting your boxes this year, thank you for your support!

If you have any questions, please reach out by email to

*some information and images have been taken from The Shoebox Project website*


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