PHOTOS: South Surrey-based society aiming to give Zimbabwe youth Christmas in January

Noah and Alesha wrap shoeboxes for youth in Zimbabwe. (Contributed photo)Noah and Alesha wrap shoeboxes for youth in Zimbabwe. (Contributed photo)
Zimbabwe Gecko Society's Sue Janetti with a container of supplies in Zimbabwe. (File photo)
One of the converted shipping containers. (Contributed photo)
A library was created with another shipping container. (Contributed photo)
A container shipped to Zimbabwe was converted to a sewing workshop in 2014. (Contributed photo)
Past craft sales in support of the Zimbabwe Gecko Society sold items including these handmade wired and beaded ornaments. (File photo)

Shoe boxes of items suitable for youth are sought for a shipment of goods scheduled to depart for Zimbabwe in August.

According to a newsletter shared by Zimbabwe Gecko Society (ZGS) founder Sue Janetti – a South Surrey resident – the container is to leave for Africa from Victoria, however, storage for items including shoe boxes filled with everything from wash cloths and pencils to biscuits, toothpaste, comics and more has been arranged in Delta.

Janetti said the hope is to share the boxes with the local youth in January, when she and her husband Frank aim to once again take a team to the impoverished country.

The couple started ZGS in 2008 – but began working to make a difference there long before that – in response to “horrendous circumstances facing orphaned children in Zimbabwe.”

Over the years, they’ve helped bring clean water and sanitation to communities in Zimbabwe, as well as the Foundations for Farming program, which teaches sustainable farming methods.

READ MORE: ‘We’re a little society doing big things’

Containers packed with everything from school and medical supplies to clothing and tools are sent as often as possible. Once unpacked, they’re converted for permanent use. So far, created spaces have included a carpentry workshop, sewing room and library. Nearly complete is space for a new hairdressing and beauty shop, candle-making and soap shop, and shoe-making and leather shop – all three of which will provide both employment and apprentice-training opportunities.

“We have developed many projects that are helping the whole community become self sustainable and it is going well,” Janetti told Peace Arch News by email Thursday (July 8).

“Most of the work has been driven to building a school, church, piggery, chicken broilers, chicken layers, goats, employment and training in sewing, carpentry, metal work and welding to mention a few.”

She said the shoe box delivery is planned as a “Christmas in January for the youth.” With the society’s latest efforts focused on pre-school and adult education, “they have been somewhat left out,” she explained.

But, “the youth are important, too.”

“It is impossible to think what a shoebox of gifts will mean to so many kids. Each will have their own powerful emotion.”

Anyone planning to fill a shoe box is asked to drop it off to Janetti at 102-1744 128 St. by the end of July. Alternatively, for a $15 donation, Janetti’s grandson Noah, with friends Tina and Alesha, will fill a box in a donor’s name.

Non-shoe box items that would be welcomed for next month’s container shipment include a supply of canned or packaged dried food, lentils and beans.

For more information, visit or contact Janetti at 604-531-3654 or
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