Santa in a Shoebox is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is fueled by generosity. This is a community-focused operation based out of Racine, Kenosha, and Milwaukee County. For 13 years, Santa in a Shoebox has provided community members, who are in need, with holiday cheer. Each stuffed shoebox gives children and adults the chance to experience the joy of opening a gift.
Diana Higgenbottom Anagnostopoulos founded this operation with the motive to give to others during the holiday season. The first year, she assembled and donated 80 boxes to benefit the Racine area. With the help of friends, family, churches, businesses, and residents, Santa in a Shoebox has now expanded into two additional counties.
So what’s the goal this year? “As long as we are coming together as a community and making a difference, then Santa In A Shoebox has met our goals,” says Higgenbottom Anagnostopoulos.
Their plan is to continue distributing thousands of boxes across Southeastern Wisconsin to local organizations and shelters. These boxes are full of toys, games, toiletries, and other items that may bring joy to someone. Recipients include men, women, children, the elderly, and veterans.
Santa in a Shoebox asks for community help each year. The work can’t be done without help from Santa’s Elves, so here’s how you can get involved:
How to Become an Elf
The local organization Santa in a Shoebox has become a holiday tradition to many families across Southeastern Wisconsin. This year your church, company, business, troop, family, or team can get involved. Anyone is welcome! If you’re looking to bring others some yuletide spirit, then this is how you can do so:
1. Collect New Items & Shoeboxes
- Start by collecting items that can fit in a shoebox.
- Collect shoeboxes, if possible.
- If you cannot collect shoeboxes, donating the items indivudally is still encouraged.
What goes into a box?
- Shoexbox item ideas: toys, cards, coloring books, crayons, gift cards, socks, gloves, brushes, books, treats, deodrants, toothbrushes, toothpaste, gum, mints, colored pencils, markers, art supplies, word search books, crossword puzzles, hand lotion, scrunchies/hair ties, combs, fidget spinners, phone chargers, granola bars, bubbles, flashlights, glowsticks, candy bars, tea packets, notepads, bottles, pacifers, onsies, small blankets, teething toys, nail care kits, sewing kits, etc.
- No toy guns allowed.
What are the Age and Gender Groups?
Items collected for Santa in a Shoebox must fit a specific gender- and age group. Be sure to clearly label which categories each box belongs to. Labels should be placed on the outside of each box. Gender-neutral boxes are also accepted.
Gender and Age groups:
- Female/Male – Infant to 2 years old
- Female/Male – 3 to 5 years old
- Female/Male – 6 to 8 years old
- Female/Male – 9 to 12 years old
- Female/Male – 13 to 17 years old
- Female/Male – Adults & Seniors
PLEASE NOTE: Categories with a shortage of donations are: Men, Middle- and High School teens.
2. Drop off Donations
Various locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin serve as drop-off locations. Donations will begin accepting donations starting November 5. Donations will be accepted until December 13. The following locations will accept Santa in Shoebox items:
- Malicki’s Piggly Wiggly – 5201 Washington Ave
- Javier’s Cuisine – 2011 Lathrop Ave
- Stinebrink’s Piggly Wiggly – 7600 Pershing Blvd
- Kenosha Unified ESC Building – 3600 52nd Street
- Drop off box will be outside main entrance from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily
- Stinebrink’s Piggly Wiggly – 2801 14th Place (Northside)
- Malicki’s Piggly Wiggly – 2201 E Rawson Ave.
- Cuppa Tosa – 418 N Mayfair Rd.
- Saints Constantine & Hellen Orthodox Greek Church – 2160 Wauwatosa Ave
- Fridays: 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.
- Sundays: 9 a.m. until noon
3. Wrapping Party
This step in the project is optional but encouraged. If stuffed shoeboxes are donated without being wrapped, they will be available to wrap at the various Santa in a Shoebox Wrapping Parties. For the items that are donated without being in a shoebox, they will be assembled and wrapped as well. Watch for updated information on the following parties on our website. For now, start stocking up on shoeboxes and gift items.
Kenosha: December 15
Milwaukee County: TBD
Santa in a Shoebox’s Impact
Last year, Santa in a Shoebox benefited:
- Veterans and their families throughout Southeastern Wisconsin
- Community Care (Kenosha)
- Hillcrest School (Kenosha)
- Shalom Center (Kenosha)
- KHDS (Kenosha)
- Walking In My Shoes (Kenosha)
- KUSD Headstart (Kenosha)
- God’s Kitchen (Kenosha)
- Boys & Girls Club (Racine and Kenosha)
- Case High School teachers for their students (Racine)
- Women’s Resource Center (Racine)
- Safe Haven (Racine)
- Hospitality Center (Racine)
- Human Concerns Homeless Facility (Milwaukee)
- Human beings receiving cancer treatment throughout Southeast Wisconsin
- Childrens Hospital of Southeast Wisconsin
- Misc families and individuals by direct referral throughout Southeast Wisconsin
Crank some holiday music as you pack boxes and remember to stay tuned for more information by following Santa in a Shoebox’s social media. Updates will be made on their site and to this article as information becomes available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments regarding the program.
Like this story? Follow the Racine County Eye’s Celebrations page for additional stories. Questions about Santa in a Shoebox can also be directed to email@example.com. If you have a story suggestion, you may also submit them directly to Emma via email.