‘Christmas shoebox’ spreads joy

Dunedin community leader Ana Mapusua is pictured in her garage with some of the 300 Christmas...
Dunedin community leader Ana Mapusua is pictured in her garage with some of the 300 Christmas gift-filled shoeboxes she has gathered with community support for Dunedin families in need. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
A wish to make Christmas happy for Dunedin people in need has snowballed into an epic community project for a local family.

After seeing how busy staff at the Corstorphine Community Hub were before Christmas, Ana Mapusua decided to help out by taking over the organisation’s "Christmas shoebox" initiative this year.

Taking pre-wrapped shoeboxes, she set about drawing on her connections with people from all walks of life.

"I put out the call through my personal social media platform for people to fill a shoebox for Christmas and was flooded with hundreds of messages from people wanting to help.

"So, after completing the 120 boxes for the hub, I thought ‘why stop here’?"

Mrs Mapusua reached out to other grassroots organisations and people in the community to discover where further need lay, and the gifts kept on flowing, until her family’s garage was filled with 300 festive shoeboxes.

The contents range from colouring books and confectionery to clothing, vouchers, toys, and pamper items for parents.

"I also had ex-Corstorphine people reach out from overseas, and rugby folk from Japan, all pitch in with koha for the project."

She also contacted the National Library of New Zealand to request 300 books to accompany the boxes and was delighted with its prompt agreement.

Taking on the project was important for Mrs Mapusua for a range of reasons.

"I care, and being a local Corstorphine girl, I really wanted to do something that would hopefully help those from the place I call home.

"Some people would not believe you if you told them that children are hungry in Dunedin and that this [the Christmas shoeboxes] will be the only thing they receive on Christmas Day — but for hundreds, it’s just reality."

It had been "magical" having people return their filled boxes and telling her how much joy it had brought to them and their families.

"This project has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done — I have been left with the ultimate gift of seeing hundreds of people coming together to show that they care."


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