Shoebox gift giving project helps children of Armenia

The creators of the Armenian Shoebox Project in New Jersey are looking for organizations who would like to participate in an important gift giving project serving hundreds of students in Armenia impacted by the war. 

To date, nearly 250 students from the Nor Yerznka Secondary School (SNCO) in Armenia have received shoeboxes filled with gifts. The Shoebox Project is a drive that collects shoeboxes filled with necessities and gifts for children in Armenia impacted by war. The goal of the project is to help brighten the lives of these children, especially during the holiday season. 

Students from New Jersey schools created their own personalized wrapped shoebox gifts for any child from the list. Some of the items included were notebooks, winter clothing, toys and other necessities. The shoeboxes were then sent to the students in time for Armenian Christmas in January. 

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The project stemmed from the combined efforts of the Academy of the Holy Angels (AHA) Armenian Club and the Hovnanian School. The project was inspired by a nonprofit organization that sends shoebox gifts to local charities. Hovnanian School first participated in the drive, spearheaded by teacher Ruth Brunman. She later decided to hold a similar project for Armenia. Brunman, Armenian teacher Hera Makhoulian and a group of dedicated parents worked together with Laura Simonyan to make the project what it is now. 

The Shoebox Project is currently led by Hovnanian alumni – Sirahn Toufayan of AHA and Tais Degirmenci of Fort Lee High School. AHA took on the Shoebox Project after Toufayan brought the idea to the Armenian Club from her time at Hovnanian School, leading alongside her co chair, Sophia Karamanoukian. Degirmenci took over the student portion at Hovnanian School. While the AHA Armenian Club organized the first two drives since its launch in 2022, Hovnanian held a successful third annual drive. In participation with AHA and Hovnanian, St. Leon’s Armenian Church’s Sunday School delivered 60 shoeboxes to the resource center for women’s empowerment in Hrazdan for refugees. 

The project came to fruition with the collaboration of diaspora and local communities coming together for a great cause. Both AHA and Hovnanian hope to continue the new gift giving tradition and are now preparing for next year’s drive. However, this project can be taken on by anyone. If you know of an institution or an organization that might be interested in taking part in the Shoebox Project this year, please contact Laura Simonyan at

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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