by Heather Asiyanbi

Santa In A Shoebox and Piggly Wiggly Washington Ave are teaming up again to bring a bit of Christmas joy to neighbors who might otherwise go without.

Starting Nov. 22, completed boxes can be dropped off at The Pig. If the boxes aren’t wrapped, it’s not an issue. Several days of “wrapping parties” next month are already on the calendar.

Santa Founder Diana Anderson Higgenbottom started the event five years ago after she heard about it in another community on a Christian radio station. Since then, Santa in a Shoebox has grown from 100 to 150 boxes to more than 600 in 2012.

“The generosity of our community is just such a blessing for the people who get to open these boxes and feel some of the season’s joy,” Higgenbottom said.

Ralph Malicki, owner of Piggly Wiggly, said he’s happy to have his store serve as a staging point again for Santa in a Shoebox.

“We’re more than happy to provide space for Diana and her program,” he said. “This is a great community event that adds joy to so many people’s Christmas season.”

How the Santa programs works is pretty simple: donors fill a shoebox with new, usable items for a specific age group and then label the box for the gender and age of the intended recipient. Higgenbottom said there are eight categories and should automatically be separated into boy or girl:

-Babies to age 2
-Ages 3 to 5
-Ages 6 to 9
-Ages 11-13
-Ages 14-17
Adult Male
Adult Female

Teens in the 14-to-17 age group and men are the two groups with the biggest need. Higgenbottom said gift cards to area restaurants make great gifts for teens so they can go out to lunch sometimes with their friends. Men appreciate socks, razors and after shave.

Individuals and families are recommended to Higgenbottom by other family members, schools and area agencies. Requests can be submitted through the Santa in a Shoebox Facebook page or through Racine Uncovered News.

Last drop-off day for boxes at Piggly Wiggly is Dec. 15.

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