Raising Dhs1 million in a month may sound like a stretch, but that’s exactly what the Shoe Box Appeal has achieved in Dubai over the past two years. And this time round, the appeal hopes to raise even more. The idea is that we all take a shopping trip on behalf of a labourer, filling a shoe box with the everyday items they need. Each box is valued at Dhs100, which means Dubai needs to fill at least 10,000 shoe boxes to match previous collections, and more if we want to surpass them. Can you help? We talked to Pasquale Baiguera, general manager at the Radisson Blu – the brains behind the campaign – to find out.
How is the appeal going so far this year?
Normally we just run the campaign through September, and since it was initiated in September 2008 we’ve made a total collection of Dhs2 million.
This year, we started earlier to coincide with Ramadan [the collection launched on August 11], and it will continue until the end of September. So we should be able to achieve at least the same target. We distributed 500 shoe boxes in the first three days, so we’re confident it will be another successful campaign. There’ll be a big boost this month, too, because everybody will be coming back from the summer holiday.
We hear the Radisson Blu has also involved the Red Crescent Society this year [the Red Cross is called the Red Crescent in Islamic societies].
It’s the Red Crescent’s mission and it’s in their spirit to help people, regardless of nationality and religion, so it’s a good fit. Their involvement means we can take the campaign to more people.
There’s a specific shopping list for volunteers to use when filling their shoe box (see panel, right). Why have you chosen these items?
The idea is that they should be items that can fit in a shoe box so they’re easy to distribute, and they should be day-to-day essentials, like toothpaste and shampoo. These are all items that we take for granted, whereas they are not necessarily easily affordable for less fortunate people.
All items should be new, right?
We don’t take anything that is used or recycled. Everything should be new. It doesn’t cost a lot to contribute to the appeal and you can easily find the items when you go shopping.
Why do you think the Shoe Box Appeal has been so successful in the past?
You’re not just taking the easy way and giving Dhs100 to someone who will do something with it for you. So there’s a sense of self-involvement. You’re doing something concrete to help somebody else. It also helps that it coincides with Ramadan, because people are in the mood to donate.
Why would you encourage our readers to get involved?
It’s quite easy – all you have to do is commit yourself to buying these items, then put them in a box. And in the end we feel good about helping somebody else.
Collect a shoe box from the lobby of the Radisson Blu in Media City from now until September 30. Boxes come with a shopping list so you know what to donate. All boxes will be handed to the Red Crescent Society, whose volunteers will distribute the boxes to UAE construction workers. For more info, call 04 366 9111
The Shoe Box Appeal shopping list
• T-shirt (men’s medium size)
• Disposable razor
• Shaving cream
• Talcum powder
• Nail clippers
• Small hand towels
• Antibacterial soap
All of the above items should be included to complete a donation