- December 1, 2021
LAKEWOOD RANCH — What started as an informal get-together in the home of Maribeth Phillips in 2006 has transformed into a communitywide project to benefit homebound seniors each year.
Meals on Wheels Plus, for which now Phillips serves as CEO, will hold its ninth annual Community Shoebox Reception 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 14 at The Ranch Grill, 14475 S.R. 70 E., Bradenton.
“What started as 37 shoeboxes in 2006 grew to 850 last year,” Phillips said.
Attendees gain admission by donating at least one Christmas-decorated shoebox filled with items for homebound seniors or by making a $20 donation to Meals on Wheels Plus. Guests will enjoy complimentary food and drink, a visit with Santa, raffles and other festivities.
Phillips said the organization aims to distribute 1,000 shoeboxes — one for each senior utilizing Meals on Wheels’ programs, including its home-meal delivery, adult day care and Friendship Dining programs.
Most seniors, she said, don’t receive anything for Christmas.
“For the most part, these are people who need the bare necessities,” she said. “We still have a long way to go to make sure everybody has a box.”
Boxes can include items such as shampoo, a toothbrush, socks, games and other personal hygiene items.
Financial contributions will be used to purchase items and create enough shoeboxes for seniors utilizing the organization’s programs.
“We’re just so grateful to this wonderful community we live in,” Phillips said. “Every year, it gets bigger and better. It’s fun and it’s short and it’s a great thing to do for the holiday.”
Don’t have shoeboxes? There are options.
The following East County businesses have shoeboxes available for pickup at no cost.
• The Ranch Grill, 14475 S.R. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch;
• Vibology Studio, 8733 S.R. 70 E., Bradenton; and
• MacAllisters, 8110 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch.
All have boxes for people to take and fill. Participants also can purchase plastic bins, similar in size and shape to shoeboxes, as an alternative.
If you go
Ninth Annual Community Shoebox Reception
• When: 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 14
• Where: The Ranch Grill, 14475 S.R. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch
• Cost: Free with a filled shoebox or a $20 donation to Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee.
• Details: Attendees will enjoy food and drink, Santa, raffles and other festivities.
• Information: mealsonwheelsplus.org
Suggested items for shoeboxes:
• personal hygiene items