Thirty-eight thousand — that’s the number of boxes filled with toiletries that were delivered to homeless families throughout the metro area this week by the United Way of Greater Atlanta Shoebox Project.
The annual campaign nearly doubled its donation total from last year’s delivery, soaring past the 20,000 boxes collected 2012. The United Way took in decorated shoeboxes filled with toiletries like toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. The children’s boxes are filled with crayons, coloring books and other fun things and will deliver them to needy families.
“The project has really gained popularity in the past few years,” said United Way volunteer coordinator Astin Godwin. “It’s a project that connects with everyone.”
United Way has gained more company support from big and small businesses and used social media this year more than ever to promote the project and get donations.
FedEx Atlanta sponsors the campaign by transporting the boxes to an area where they are sorted and then delivering them to the shelters. FedEx liaison Lawana Parsley said the company has been involved for four years.
“It affirms our loyalty and devotion to the community,” said Paulsey.
Marriott, Comcast, The Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council and chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. gathered donations and Delta Airlines awarded a pair of round-trip tickets to the designer of the best looking shoebox, Bianca Miles.
More than 180 agencies in the region serving homeless women and children will distribute the boxes. One, Genesis Shelter, serves 18 families on any given day. They shelter homeless babies under six months of age and their families. Genesis provides services like life skills classes, free childcare, money budgeting courses on top of housing the families. The shoeboxes really helped them meet their need said Nancy Friauf, the shelter’s executive director.
“Being homeless is difficult and traumatic and you start to feel like nobody cares about you,” she said. “People really do care.”
Godwin said United Way’s goal for next year is simply to meet the need.
(Photo: United Way volunteers put together shoeboxes for the campaign.)