Santa Shoebox Project: the magic 8


@santashoebox #Charity #SouthAfrica #Magic8

New to giving with the Santa Shoebox Project? Well, listen up, some helpful tips coming your way!

Though not the official ‘codename’, I think ‘magic 8’ will work to describe the 8 compulsory items every box should contain.

These are very basic and, if you are an old hand at Santa Shoebox-packing, you will know that you need not wait until the last minute to purchase these items. They can be added to your monthly grocery list so that you can start collecting them in January. You will also know to keep an eye out for specials throughout the year. In the end, using just your magic 8-collection, you will probably be able to fill quite a number of boxes.

Here is the list:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush (You sometimes get a set of paste and brush at Dischem at a reasonable price.
  • Soap and facecloth (Soap can be bought in bulk at Makro and you can actually get creative with that facecloth. Over the years we’ve seen ones decorated with the beneficiary child’s name and some have a beautiful little crocheted border.)
  • Sweets (Try to avoid chocolate, as it melts in the SA heat and can make a mess of your entire box. Also, no drinks and remember to pack an age appropriate sweet, like marshmallows for babies.)
  • Educational supplies (Anything from pens and pencils to mathematical sets, but remember to make it age appropriate.)
  • Toys (No guns, not even water pistols, or anything that can be used as a weapon. Also, please avoid religious items.)
  • Clothing (You need not pack an entire outfit, even socks or underwear can be counted as ‘clothing’. Make sure the size of the clothes will fit your pledged child.)

To this you can add whatever you like to fill up your box. Use your imagination and let your own kids become part of the project. Let them write Christmas notes to the child (the kids LOVE that) or have them draw a pretty picture.

Now, the boxes, next week I’ll be sharing a video to help you with ideas on how to cover the box. Suffice to say, for now, make it fun and interesting.

REMEMBER to paste your printed label on the box and do not damage the bar code. That will tell our computers exactly where the box must go, even if the name is lost!

Keep well and happy packing!

If you have questions or queries, please complete the contact form below and we will get back to you ASAP.

BY THE WAY you can print out the image above and paste it on carton. Cut it out and it becomes a little puzzle that you can add to your box!


Santa Shoebox Project: A pledge is a promise


@santashoebox #PledgeIsAPromise #Charity #Giving

Every year the teams at SSB drop-offs around South Africa are faced with one big problem. So called ‘no shows’. ‘No shows’ are pledged boxes that are never delivered.

You cannot believe the work that teams have to do just to get a drop-off up and running, not to mention doing marketing, sourcing donors, checking boxes, coordinating bulk pledges, ensuring that there are enough ‘fillers’, managing time schedules for volunteers, coordinating transport of cartons and planning celebrations. (Fillers are the compulsory items which are often forgotten by our enthusiastic donors. During ‘box checking’ these items are added to the boxes). Fortunately our magnificent teams have all this down to a science and things usually run very smoothly.

Unfortunately, we always have to deal with ‘no shows’. I want you to consider this for a minute: imagine you are promised something and you look forward to receiving it for months, only to realize that you are not going to get it after all. Every year we are faced with that problem. How do you tell an innocent child that the promised gift will not be delivered, because a donor couldn’t manage to make good on his promise to pack a box? It is simply not possible. That is why it is the team’s responsibility to ensure that every child on the pledged list get a box. We pack boxes ourselves and use our ‘fillers’ to do so. You may think that it is just one or two boxes, you are SO wrong. Sometimes it is hundreds of boxes.

So, while I am encouraging you to become part of the phenomena that is Santa Shoebox, to do your little bit by pledging a box, I also beg of you to make good on that pledge. A pledge is a promise. Not to us, but to a child. A child that has never received a Christmas gift in his life. We work closely with facilities like daycare centres and orphanages to plan their Santa Shoebox gifts. It is not as if it will be a huge surprise to them, they are expecting to receive boxes. The beneficiary facilities usually help plan celebration days and these events become the highlight of the year. The children are prepared well in advance for this spectacular day and are sometimes even part of it by performing dances or singing. Can you imagine the disappointment if we have to cancel it all because the boxes were ‘no shows’?

If you think you will NOT be able to fill a box with the necessary items, then you should not pledge one. You can still bring joy to the children by volunteering your services or donating ‘fillers’ if you can afford it. I know that times are tough. The economy is in a downward spiral and few people have the financial resources to give to charity. Some people may even feel that they need some charity themselves! Just, please, do not make a promise you cannot keep.

As I mentioned, you can still be involved without spending money. Volunteer to help at drop-off or join the team when they hand out the gifts during celebrations. No one will think less of you if you just volunteer, you are, after all, still giving. You are giving your time to bring joy to others.

REMEMBER: you don’t have to fill the box to the brim. While we do appreciate it and the children are, of course, thrilled by all the lovely items inside, the compulsory items will suffice.

These items are:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap and facecloth
  • Sweets
  • Educational supplies
  • Toys
  • Clothes

For those of you who pack boxes and drop it off on time, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. To the children you are angels from heaven, bringing brightness to their dull lives. You are doing something that the child will remember forever.

You are indeed making a difference.

If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by completing the contact form below.

If you would like to pledge a box or volunteer now, please visit and register online.

‘The little Optimist’: Your purchase, our gift


@santashoebox #TheLittleOptimist #GregBertish

Purchase a copy of The Little Optimist and a Santa Shoebox beneficiary child will receive a copy for free! Save the date to meet Greg Bertish at the CTICC on Saturday 11 November, and have your copy signed.


Santa Shoebox Project on Facebook.

67 Blankets: #MMM Deadline

@67blankets #MMM #Charity #SouthAfrica #Crocheting #Knitting #YesWeWool

Oh yes, people, the deadline is looming ever closer! All your #MMM-blankets must be handed in by 15 December 2017.

Wondering where we stand ‘blanket wise’? Have a look at the images above. These represent the #MMM stock as on 17 August.

Need I say more? Well, if you cannot properly see the figures in the picture, here it is:

88/964 Grey blankets – still need 876
16/480 Black blankets – still need 464
31/84 Red blankets – still need 53
13/76 Yellow blankets – still need 63
11/84 Blue blankets – still need 73
14/76 Green blankets – still need 62

We will have to get creative at the speed of light NOW if we want to make target by 15 December.

Just to remind you, here is the plan for the blanket itself. Have a look at the colour codes for the wool below.


The wool we use is Pullskein DK & Charity DK. The colour codes are as follows:

Light Grey (59) & Silver Grey (011)
Black (01) & Black (017)
Red (13) & Red (136)
Yellow (62) & Bright Yellow (138)
Royal Blue (05) & Royal Blue (008)
Bright Green (63) & Emerald Green (022)

Look at these beauties that were created by our enthusiastic knitwits:

Head office was also blessed by a financial donation from Telesure. They were able to purchase 5000 balls of grey wool with the funds.


So, my message to you today, if you’ve already finished a few #MMM’s (sounds like candy, doesn’t it?), thank you SO very much for your hard work. If you still plan to contribute a blanket, please start as soon as you can so that you don’t miss the deadline.


If you have any questions, do get in touch with head office via the website: You can also look up your regional ambassador and give him or her a shout. Alternatively,  complete the contact form below and we’ll be in touch ASAP.

Have a greyt day, everyone!!

All images via @67 blankets on FB:

Santa Shoebox Project: be part of the magic

#SSB2017 @santashoebox

One week into pledging! Have you done yours yet?

Why not get your colleagues, school or business to do a bulk pledge? Want to know how? E-mail me at:

Look at these lovely boxes from Camps Bay High and be inspired.

Via #SantaShoeboxProject on

Look who got lucky!


#DonationsDistributed #Hammanskraal #Charity #SouthAfrica

Look who dropped in yesterday!! None other than the great Onicca Hlabela, chairwoman of the Hammanskraal NPO network. She brought fellow committee member, Sarah, with for support and, of course, to meet me.

Onicca runs an orphanage and 3 daycare centres herself in Kekana Gardens, Hammanskraal. She got very lucky today, as I had SO many donations to give her.

One of my very loyal supporters, Marinda Deysel from El Pelo Hair Studios, donated clothes (tons of it) and Onicca was thrilled to be on the receiving end of that. I also discussed getting them involved with 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day and they agreed to give me 63 squares or one blanket or 10 scarves for every 60 balls of wool I hand over to them. This wool was donated by Vaheeda Hassim to 67B head office and they distributed it to their various ambassadors across the country. Trust me, I have PLENTY!!

[We had some ‘selfie’-fun as well. I wasn’t impressed by being photographed at all, but what else is a selfie but, well, a SELFIE!! :-)]

Onicca also continued to explain that the new daycare centres in Hammanskraal really struggle, as they have no proper facilities for the thousands of children they care for. They need building material, carpets or tiles, blankets and mattresses, paint, educational equipment, equipment for their play areas, toys, books, stationery, curtains, etc. So if you can help with any of this, please let me know ASAP.

Send an e-mail to: or complete the contact form below.

Thank you, in advance, for your support.

What we are all about


Image via

#Charity #SouthAfrica #Purpose2Serve

I’ve been writing updates on this blog for a long time and whether you follow or not, you may have wondered what the Ilze Halliday Foundation is about. Why was it founded?

Well, the story begins back in 2011 when I got involved with the Santa Shoebox Project. I was only a volunteer back then, but the idea of this one box making a difference in the life of a child captured my imagination.

The next year I was approached by their coordinator in Pretoria, who wanted me to become a team member. I jumped at the chance and was soon more involved than I thought I could cope with. My first task was to visit the facilities allocated to me, to screen them, take pictures, etc. The screening process is part of the organization’s way of getting to know its beneficiaries. It is a brilliant way of connecting with them, as you get to meet their managers, the children and get to view the facility grounds and the community it serves.

My first visit was to Ikaneng Daycare and Drop-in Centre in Soshanguve, North of Pretoria. I met their manager. Back then it was Itumeleng Masia (Itu sadly passed away a few years ago). While chatting with him, it dawned on me that this one box a year may help a little, but their need is so overwhelming that it barely scratches the surface. In a way Itu inspired me to start my own project, my own organization. You see, there is SO much more that one can do to help these people.

As I worked my way down the list of facilities for screening, it only became clearer to me that there is more to be done. I noticed a communication gap between the facilities and projects and orgs, like Santa Shoebox, that can help them in some way. They also have no way to source donations from the public. I decided to do something about that.

Most of the facilities (daycares, drop-in/after school care, places of safety, orphanages, etc) have no internet connection and therefore no ‘open’ line to communicate their needs to the public and business sector. They have no funds to launch marketing campaigns either. Their needs are mostly fulfilled by word of mouth and while some are lucky in receiving contributions from big businesses and international organizations, many are still struggling to get by on the minimum fees the parents pay each month to keep their children in the facility. That is, if they pay at all.

The answer, for me, was obvious, I wanted to give them much needed exposure by sharing news about them, requesting donations on their behalf and listing them on my website. In addition I wanted to help them get in touch with the ‘right’ people, meaning other projects and organizations that can benefit them like 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, The Sweethearts Foundation, Dignity Dreams, JYB NonProfit, Breadline Africa and many more.

The Ilze Halliday Foundation was founded in November 2012. Named after a child we lost 30 years ago, it was my way of ensuring that her memory stays alive, especially since I suspect she would have grown up to be a generous, kind and compassionate human being. I immediately started to gather information about facilities in and around Pretoria. By the middle of 2013 I had 14 facilities, by the end of that year it had grown to 25. Although I contacted many of them from my side, most of them got in touch with me, as the word was spreading about what I plan to do.

Today I list 96 facilities across South Africa, one in Masaka, Uganda and am officially involved with 4 organizations that help to support them. Two years ago I was contacted by Timothy Matovu from Macfo Uganda in Kampala. We’ve been communicating ever since and I have helped him with some of his projects. The distance makes it difficult, though, since postal fees are exorbitant, but I help him with advice and managing some crowdfunding. Last year, for instance, we did the ‘Hope in a Box’-project, which is similar to the Santa Shoebox Project. Timothy packed nearly 80 boxes, filling them with donated items and they had a lovely Christmas party. My contribution? I set up a crowdfunding campaign on his behalf, made a marketing video and gave tips on how to manage the project.

The Ilze Halliday Foundation is not yet a registered NPO, but all the places I list and support are, so people can freely donate, knowing that, should they require a tax certificate, it can be provided.

I hope to expand to retirement homes, homeless shelters and shelters for abused women and children soon. I just wish I had more time! (And more hands, of course.)

At the moment a priority is to finally finish the website. Hopefully it will be done within the next few months, but in the meantime I’ve shut down the site completely. I will definitely let you know when it is up and running.

As you can imagine, the work never ends. Like the communities’ needs, it is forever growing. You  may have noticed that, in many posts, I mention ‘we’ when referring to the organization. Basically there is no ‘we’, there is just me and a handful of helpers. These helpers usually get involved when I have do to a site visit and sometimes they help me spread the word about projects I am running, like the ‘winter warmer project’. It is rather difficult to get all the work done, especially since I have to keep a presence on social media on behalf of my projects, organizations and facilities, request, collect and deliver donations and do project administration in between.

The foundation receives no funds, unless it is to support the projects and orgs I’m involved with. For instance: I recently purchased Dignity Dreams sanitary packs on behalf of the ladies at Zambesi Retirement Village. The packs were distributed to teenaged girls in Soshanguve and the donors were informed where their funds were spent.

And then there is the question of official registration. I will get there eventually, I hope. But in the meantime my job is to serve the communities, without prejudice, with compassion, kindness and love. If there is one thing I am certain of, I will never change my mind about helping these people and will devote my life to serving others.

My mission? To bring hope to the thousands of people in South Africa who feel lost and desperate. They need to know that their is someone who cares, someone who will stand up for them, a champion of sorts.


If you want to contribute to the foundation, please complete the contact form below and I’ll be in touch: