Box of Hope: Delivering Smiles

When you hear a child say “My face hurts from smiling so much”, you know your mission is a noble and successful one.  Founded by Hong Kong Moms Nicole Woolhouse and Harriet Cleverly, Box of Hope has been putting smiles on the faces of children in need since 2008.  The philanthropic endeavor started from the simple desire to teach their own combined six children the gift of giving.

Box of Hope collects decorated shoeboxes filled with educational and fun gifts donated by Hong Kong school children.  The project not only helps and gives hope to children in need but it also teaches the children giving about helping within their communities.  The boxes are delivered by hand in Hong Kong and also shipped to the Philippines, China, Cambodia and Vietnam.  Last year, Box of Hope delivered 24,000 boxes to children in need!


One year, Box of Hope distributed 18,000 boxes and Woolhouse went to a rural village in the Philippines to distribute the gifts personally.  “Upon opening a box with a little girl, there was a card inside and it had been written by my daughters best friend,” she says.  “It was amazing to be able to show Freya, the girl donating the box, exactly who received it. We were all very emotional at the experience.”

“Every trip and card we receive means the world to us,” adds Woolhouse.  “We all feel very privileged to be able to work on Box of Hope.”

For the future, Box of Hope would like to see the children in the donating schools to become more involved in running the projects.  Says Woolhouse, “It is great experience for the older children to engage with their friends, learn how to present and promote a project.”

How it Works:


How to Participate: 

  • Where can I get a box? Anywhere!  Shoe stores are happy to give them away, Bookazine and Ikea often have pre-decorated ones.  Plastic boxes can be used and are longer lasting.
  • What should I put in the box?  Hygiene items such as bars of soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste are vital.  Airline amenity packs are great but check they don’t have razors inside!  Here are some more ideas:
    • TOYS:  Something to love — Bear, soft toy, tennis ball, finger puppet, jigsaw, yo-yo, small musical instrument, torch(incl batteries), playing cards, small trucks and cars, doll, jewellery, make-up, hair accessorises, bouncy balls, and stickers.
    • EDUCATIONAL SUPPLIES:  Something to do — books (simple english), felt pens, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, rubber, coloring book, notepad, picture/puzzle book, chalk, pencil case, stickers, calculator, etc.
    • HYGIENE ITEMS:  Something to use — toothbrush & toothpaste, hairbrush, comb, hair clips, bar of wrapped soap, flannel.  NO LIQUIDS.
    • OTHER ITEMS:  Something to wear — sunglasses, cap, sun hat, bangles, necklaces, watch etc.
  • What shouldn’t I put in the box?  Unfortunately, we cannot accept food, medicine, war-related items (i.e toy guns/soldiers/knives), clothing (other than listed above), fragile items (i.e. glass containers/mirrors), liquids, (including blow bubbles/shampoo/bubble bath/toiletry sets/aerosols), and no dangerous items (marbles/sharp objects/scissors/razors).
  • Where can I drop it off?  Drop off your filled box at any of these locations around Hong Kong!
  • When should I drop it off?  Drop-off dates for schools are October 31st to November 4th. Drop-off dates for our offices in Central (Suite 4105, Two Exchange Square) are October 31st to November 15th.
  • How can I get more involved?  Host a ‘Box of Hope’ party!  Invite friends to decorate and fill boxes together.   You can donate some of your own birthday money through Two Presents.  And you can volunteer at the Box of Hope office from November 8th – 17th.  But places go fast!  Contact Box of Hope through their Facebook page or website.
  • Join the design competition!  The boxes received each year are always so beautifully packaged, with such care, that Box of Hope decided to launch a competition for the best design.  The winners will join on a Hong Kong delivery.  It is really fun to see the donating children interacting with the recipients.
  • See the boxes being delivered!  If you’d like to see what happens to the boxes watch the delivery video!



About Nicole Woolhouse:

Nicole moved to Hong Kong in 2005 with three very small children after 5 years in London.  Her father worked tirelessly for The Lions Charity Group in the UK so, giving was very much part of her DNA.  Inspired by a project her son worked on in the UK, she decided to try it here. She partnered with Harriet Cleverly and began the project with just six kindergartens, two large cars and some loyal friends willing to help.  They were bowled over when we collected 1200 in their first year.  They soon realized the project had a real chance so with proper funding, they launched Box of Hope on a much larger scale the following year.  Box of Hope is now a team of 11 fabulous ladies who selflessly give up their time year round to work on the project, working with over 150 schools, recipients in over 5 countries collecting over 24,000 shoeboxes.

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